A recent editorial by the Gannett Kansas editorial advisory board attempted to “throw cold water” on legislation I authored to support rural Kansans who have been negatively impacted by an unchecked wind industry over the past decade.
This industry has been propped up by government, to the detriment of our energy policy, our environment and the lives of everyday Kansans. The purpose of SB 279 is to protect the health, safety, economic viability and property rights of rural Kansans.
The Legislature often gives ample lip service to boosting rural areas – but wind companies have been trampling over these same communities, and they are now turning to the Kansas Legislature for help. By holding hearings and proposing reforms, I am listening to these Kansans.
One only needs to take a drive through most of Kansas to understand the excesses caused by an unchecked industry propped up by government. The staggering number of wind turbines (over 40 fields in total) has destroyed much of the beautiful Kansas landscape. Wildlife is being chased away, and birds, bats and even beneficial insects are being wiped out. Stray voltage has negative impacts on dairy cattle.
Even though there is a moratorium on wind development in the Flint Hills to protect the unique and pristine beauty of that area, giant turbines are now sited in Marshall County, which is considered the northern portion of the Flint Hills.
While “big wind” is using Kansas as a temporary source for their heavily-subsidized turbines to make a buck off the taxpayer, these same taxpayers will soon be faced with questions about what to do with thousands of turbines that have outlived their usefulness, and the extraordinary high cost ($3 billion) it will take to decommission them – not to mention the environmental impact of burying the turbines in landfills.
While many would prefer an outright moratorium on new turbines, SB 279 is a modest approach that respects the right of property owners. Rather than attacking attempts to reform the wind industry, editorial boards should be asking these questions:
What is the economic benefit of replacing reliable power sources with nonreliable sources? How do Kansans benefit when wind companies sell most of the electricity they generate to out of state sources, when we must pay for the transmission lines and extra peaking generation necessary for wind power to exist?
Why don’t these wind farms pay property taxes instead of the payments in lieu of taxes that remit only a tiny fraction of the funds to counties where these are installed? What will be the depreciated value of the turbines when they finally do come onto the tax rolls? Can wind companies show us a list of the 22,000 jobs that these wind companies claim to have produced?
Why is it that electrical rates in Kansas have climbed nearly 90% since 2007 when wind turbines began appearing in Kansas? Why did the attorney for a wind company offer $550,000 to the city fathers of Corning (population 650) to stop their zoning against wind? Why did they succeed despite the protests of landowners in the city and surrounding area?
If the Gannett Kansas editorial advisory board would ask these questions, my guess is their next editorial would be throwing cold water on the wind industry, not on legislation seeking to help rural Kansans.
A meteorologist for 40 years, Mike Thompson is now a Republican state senator from the 10th District.
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