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Despite county's decision, FHSU pursues wind  

Requiring a unanimous decision from the Ellis County Commission, the vote to allow a wind farm to be built southwest of Hays failed Tuesday.

After months of public debate, the Ellis County commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of passing the conditional use permit to allow Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA to build a wind farm. However, a unanimous decision was required because of a protest petition signed by nearly half of the property owners within 1,000 feet of the proposed wind farm.

Before the decision was made, commissioner Dennis Pfannenstiel said, “I think this is a great step forward for not only the county, but for the state and nation. I still think this would be a great boost for our county.”

Pfannenstiel, along with commission chair Vernon Berens, voted in favor of the measure.

“The zoning board voted 6-1 in favor of this petition. This played a big factor in my decision,” Berens said. “And it’s renewable energy.”

Ellis County Planning and Zoning previously had voted in favor of passing the conditional use permit. Now, commissioner Perry Henman, the only dissenter, said he would like to send the resolution back to the zoning board for more rules and regulations to be written.

Fort Hays State University had an interest in the county’s decision; however, President Edward H. Hammond said the university would continue with its motions to bring a wind farm to Hays.

“The university is going to go ahead with wind generation on our property,” Hammond said. “This decision means we will do it alone.”

Hammond said the university’s project will be more costly, but said it is in the economic best interest for the community.

In association with the larger county project, an educational component was available for FHSU students to learn more about wind energy.

“I’m not sure we would have sufficient volume to offer the same opportunity as with the larger wind farm,” Hammond said.

As FHSU proceeds, the larger wind energy project with the county will restart. Henman proposed a one-year moratorium for Iberdrola, while other wind energy companies also would have to wait to reapply until the county has updated its rules and regulations.

“The presence of wind generation on our property will probably not be as large as it would have been in partnership with a larger project,” Hammond said.After months of public debate, the Ellis County commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of passing the conditional use permit to allow Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA to build a wind farm. However, a unanimous decision was required because of a protest petition signed by nearly half of the property owners within 1,000 feet of the proposed wind farm.

Before the decision was made, commissioner Dennis Pfannenstiel said, “I think this is a great step forward for not only the county, but for the state and nation. I still think this would be a great boost for our county.”

Pfannenstiel, along with commission chair Vernon Berens, voted in favor of the measure.

“The zoning board voted 6-1 in favor of this petition. This played a big factor in my decision,” Berens said. “And it’s renewable energy.”

Ellis County Planning and Zoning previously had voted in favor of passing the conditional use permit. Now, commissioner Perry Henman, the only dissenter, said he would like to send the resolution back to the zoning board for more rules and regulations to be written.

Fort Hays State University had an interest in the county’s decision; however, President Edward H. Hammond said the university would continue with its motions to bring a wind farm to Hays.

“The university is going to go ahead with wind generation on our property,” Hammond said. “This decision means we will do it alone.”

Hammond said the university’s project will be more costly, but said it is in the economic best interest for the community.

In association with the larger county project, an educational component was available for FHSU students to learn more about wind energy.

“I’m not sure we would have sufficient volume to offer the same opportunity as with the larger wind farm,” Hammond said.

As FHSU proceeds, the larger wind energy project with the county will restart. Henman proposed a one-year moratorium for Iberdrola, while other wind energy companies also would have to wait to reapply until the county has updated its rules and regulations.

“The presence of wind generation on our property will probably not be as large as it would have been in partnership with a larger project,” Hammond said.

By Gayle Weber

The University Leader

6 September 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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