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Wind farm meeting set for Monday

The Labette County Commission will hear from Labette County residents next week about their concerns or support for a proposed wind farm.

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday at Edna Grade School, 220 W. Myrtle. The meeting was going to be at Labette County High School in Altamont, but that changed so that the town could conserve use of its natural gas.

RWE, a German utility company, is exploring the development of a wind farm that would have 50 to 75 turbines generating between 200 and 250 megawatts of power. The turbines could be 500 feet tall at the tip of the blade. RWE is collecting wind and weather information now and this data will help determine turbine location, height and the number of turbines needed.

Commission Chairman Lonie Addis said he will open the meeting. Then County Counselor Brian Johnson will moderate the meeting. Johnson suggested that commissioners not comment on the public’s suggestions.

Previous commissioners and Addis formed a committee to investigate wind farm development and its impact on the county. That committee has completed its reports, most of them a page or less. The committee was to look into road use, setbacks, safety and environmental concerns.

Committee members suggested setbacks from 1.5 times the full height of the turbine to six times the height of the turbine from property lines. Setbacks from roads could be 1.5 times the turbine height. Setbacks from airports should be 5 miles, from schools 1 mile, from state parks and refuges from 3 to 6.2 miles, from a forest preserve 1.5 miles. Public Works Director Sandy Krider shared two pages of details on protecting county roads from damage during construction of the wind farm.

Commissioners enacted a moratorium on wind farm construction that expired in November. Commissioners then extended the moratorium for four months, and that moratorium will end March 9.