During a recent McPherson County Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, four new amendments were adopted for the Gamesa’s Commercial Wind Energy Project resolution.
Under Section E, regarding minimum requirements for conditional use permit approval, item No. 15 amendment was reworded to “A certified structural engineer licensed in the state of Kansas, chosen by the applicant, shall conduct all necessary inspections on each turbine. Inspections shall include, but not be limited to, foundation, structural assembly, mechanical and electrical. Documentation regarding each approved inspection shall be submitted to the zoning administrator before advancing to the next step of construction.”
The committee decided to include additional information to Section G, regarding decommissioning, restoration and abandonment for item No. 1 under letter AA.
It will now state “Applicant shall submit a decommissioning plan describing the manner in which the CWEP will be dismantled and removed from the site at the end of its useful life.
“All aboveground components of the CWEP shall be removed unless at the landowners request the land is left intact. Foundations shall be removed to the owner’s satisfaction unless the landowner allows for the access roads and or foundations to remain.”
In Section H, the committee decided to eliminate the last two sentences in letter a under item No. 1. The amendment is now written as “Nothing in this surety agreement or otherwise shall impose any liability or duty whatsoever on McPherson County or any of its agencies.”
Angela Krummel-Buzard, planning and zoning administrator, presented to the committee Article 3, Section 108. The new amendment would pertain to property owner wind generators.
After reviewing the section and through considerable debate, the committee decided to delete No. 1. The committee added new information to the section, which now reads as “A. Wind generators, each not exceeding 15 meters in rotator blade diameter, shall be allowed according to Section 105, Paragraph H, Item No. 3 of this article. These shall be deemed to be property owner wind generators and are of smaller scale than commercial turbines.” Items No. 2 and 3 remain the same.
Krummel-Buzard presented photos of the turbines owned by PPM Energy Incorporation located in south Butler County. There are 100 turbines at 1.5 megawatts each at the wind farm.
She also said that the whole reasoning behind the visit was to get a different perspective.
According to Krummel-Buzard, the turbines were very slow moving and were set up in rows. The whole area was fenced off with barbwire and gates, located everywhere for easy access to them and there were also access roads. The turbines were assumed to be 400 feet, she said. It also looked very orderly and secured, with no evidence of wildlife destruction.
“We couldn’t hear them from the road, but you can hear them when you get closer,” she said. “They make a kind of a whooshing sound.”
Laura Bowers, Delmore Township, said that Geary County regulations to turbines recommends that a cost benefit analysis should be done and that Kansas Department of Wildllife and Parks make a determination.
“I thought it was interesting reading that Butler County did not address any of these issues,” Bowers said. “The board needs to craft these regulations in the best interest of McPherson County residents and not to craft it for the applicant or the representatives.”
By Lisa Lucero, Sentinel Staff Writer