Pratt, Kan. – The Pilot’s Coalition, Richard Jarboe of Indeck, Jim Stratford of the Pratt Airport Authority and others, threw barbs at each other Monday during an open meeting discussion before the Pratt County Commissioners.
All parties had their version of what they thought was the truth, but perhaps, finally came to the realization that they all had something to say that was important.
Stratford said, “I’m in support of this project … any wind project in Pratt County should be looked at positively … we shouldn’t miss out on it (development of wind farms). From Dodge City southwest, they’re looking for 1,200 megawatts … you can’t get anything as clean and green as this type of development.
“There’s an element here of individual rights … I don’t want to tell my neighbors how to use their property and I don’t feel they have the right to tell me how to use mine.” continued Stratford, “Today, we couldn’t build a Pratt Feeders in Pratt County, because of the restrictions.”
Fred Newby said he was concerned with how close towers are going to be to houses, because of noise factors and interference.
“The map I saw … they could relocate them to different areas,” said Newby. “They need to be at least a mile from any home.”
“Wind energy is a bright spot in Kansas. Gov. Brownback says it is one of his top five priorities,” said Jarboe. “All I have to do is travel around Kansas and it looks like rural counties and communities are in poverty.”
Jarboe said that contracts with landowners are confidential (when he was questioned about the secrecy) and a lot of money has already been spent on developing contracts. Jarboe indicated Indeck has already spent over $1 million on the Pratt County wind farm project. He added Indeck really did not have anything to do with where towers were located. Indeck hired a consulting firm (AWS Truepower), to monitor the wind and locate the best sites in the proposed area.
Jarboe added that he thought he had done everything right – even the Federal Aviation Administration approved of his tower locations. He said he had previously tried to locate some of the 68 towers being proposed, closer to the airport and the FAA rejected them based on their proximity to the airport.
In relation to aerial sprayers not being able to work around the towers, Jarboe said they were doing it elsewhere and Indeck could shut down the rotors when sprayers were working in the area. Additionally, Indeck’s contract called for them removing the towers once they were of no further use.
Members of the Pilots Coalition all indicated they were not opposed to the wind farm – just the location of the towers. The bottom line for the pilots was that it wasn’t about opposing economic development, as indicated by several in favor of developing the wind farms, but about safety. With the number of towers already existing in the area, plus another 68, the pilots felt that eventually someone was going to fly into one of them.
Jarboe said that moving the location of the towers would probably put an end to the project and that he thought that was what some people wanted.
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