Compiled reports from the Labette County Wind Advisory Committee (January 2021).
1. Security. This is something that the county does participate in small ways. However, the building team will furnish their own on site security. The county may need to have a few extra patrols in the area
2. Fire. This is simple, just contain any fire. With the height of the towers, extinguishing one that is burning is not feasible. No department in the area has the equipment to do it. The fire will just need to be contained on the ground to keep from spreading.
3. Noise. This is tricky. The noise will be mitigated somewhat by setbacks. However in interviewing other people
that have wind farms in their area, the noise is a non-factor. It is something that is not noticed after a short period of
4. Economics. This is all positive. Especially short term. The short term prospect for small businesses is excellent. The service industry (convenience stores, restaurants, motels, travel trailer parks) will benefit greatly. The county coffers themselves will depend on the contract negotiated by the county commission with RWE. A PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) program with RWE could prove to be incredibly lucrative to the county
5. Medical. In interviewing local Med Flight pilots they can access anywhere within the proposed farm providing.
A). Atmospheric conditions allow
B). The turbines are not rotating
C). Distance from operating turbines is sufficient. This is at the pilots discretion
6). The topic of setbacks was not one of my assignments, however I feel I must weigh in. To me a logical distance from a property line would be 1.5 times the fall height of the turbine. I also would think a 1.7 times fall distance may be sufficient for dwellings, roads and structures.
I have come to understand that the Board of County Commissioners are not able to regulate any distance
situations without a zoning law in place. I personally am against that. I feel once the county is zoned for this, a slippery slope appears and it becomes necessary to zone for more and more things.
Proposed Commercial Wind Energy Project Setback Requirements
1. Road setback: Recommend 1.5 x total turbine height* from a public road right-of-way.
2. Incorporated city or unincorporated community setback: Recommend no turbine shall
be located closer than three miles from the boundary of any incorporated city or
unincorporated community of at least five residences on tracts of one acre or less.
3. Airport setback: Recommend no turbine should be located closer than five miles from
any airport or airstrip registered on current FAA charts. Shall comply with all applicable FAA requirements. Distance can be modified with FAA approval.
4. School setback: Recommend no turbine shall be located closer than one mile from any
school accredited by the Kansas State Department of Education.
5. State Parks, Wildlife Refuge, State Fishing Lakes, Mind Land Wildlife Area setback:
Recommend no turbine shall be located within three miles of their boundaries.
6. Forest Preserve setback: Recommend no turbine be located closer than 1.5 miles from a
7. Residence and Property Line setback: Recommend a turbine setback distance of 6 x total
turbine height* from all property lines. A participating land owner may waive this setback requirement on their property.
* Turbine height is defined as the height of the tower plus the height of the rotor blade at its
highest point measured from the elevation of the ground surface at the base of the tower.
Wind Farm recommendations to mitigate and minimize ecological impacts on wildlife:
1. Follow local recommendation from “Ducks Unlimited” to implement a 10K/6.2 mile setback
from federal wetlands and flyways.
2. Follow local recommendation from SEKS Audubon Society” and “Lake Parsons Advisory
Board” to implement a 5K/3.1 mile setback of wind turbines from KDWPT (Kansas
Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism) managed property.
3. Set back from the primary residence of 1.1 of turbine height.
4. I do not recommend zoning unless it is necessary to implement restrictions which then I
would recommend zoning for only the footprint of the wind farm.
In addition, now that recommendations from the committee have been made it is strongly suggested that the county commissioners hire a recognized attorney and engineer who specializes in wind farms.
Recommendations to mediate potential impact on County infrastructure
My research has shown that it will be more beneficial to tie the County’s Road Use Permit directly to the main contract with the County and Windfarm.
An engineering firm with experience in road and bridge haul route evaluations, road use agreements,
and decommissioning studies and inspection is essential to represent the County and to protect assets.
Partial summary of what could be included in the County road Use Permit include
– Agreement for road use, repair, and improvements for designated routes
– Monetary fines if not using designated routes
– Pre-Construction inspection & documentation, which includes videos of haul routes,
photographs of road conditions, photographs of hydraulic structures, including bridges, box
bridges, culverts, and ditches, load analysis completed on each structure located in the
designated route, obtain core samples from roadways.
– Post Construction inspection & documentation
– Dust Control of designated routes-preferably using a Magna-chloride to an agreed footage on
each side of a residence/livestock
– Improvements & modifications to the designated route before construction commences
– This includes culverts, box culverts, bridges, and building up gravel roads and ditches
– Donate surplus materials to the County
– A County represented inspector that would be on the job when construction starts.
– Increase Oversize Permit from $200.00 to $500.00 (or more) with the County keeping the
increase, as the loads will be running County roads.
– Have Wind Company pay for all engineering and legal fees
– Make sure everything is in writing, if not it didn’t happen
– Include in writing the time frame in which the Wind Company must start producing electric (this
triggers an abandoned turbine/decommissioning)
– Establish lower speed limits through the designated routes
– Address potential hindrances in transportation such as mail and package delivery, school busses,
farm implements, cattle, and residences inside the designated routes.
– Any additional signage that the County requires shall be paid for and installed by the Wind
Company, and shall comply with the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
– Who will maintain the designated routes once they have been built up, this will include keeping
the routes free of potholes, washboards, mud, debris, garbage, and any other obstructions or hazards, in a timely manner
– Who will maintain the signs along the designated routes
– Wind Company to provide security in the Agreement for the post-construction repair work,
Wind Company compensates County for Degradation Damages. (reasonably expected number of years remaining in the road’s useful service life, estimate of cost to completely replace and rebuild each affected road not exhibiting visual damage, pavement cross section, road base types, existing sub-base and sub-grade.
– Provide liability insurance in the range of 5 million per occurrence, covering all the Wind
– Provide an irrevocable letter of Credit, to provide security to the County for the following phases
of the project
– 1. The Construction of the project
– 2. The post-construction road repair work
– 3. The road maintenance period
– 4. Decommissioning
Example of weight that is expected during construction
– A Nacelle – gross vehicle weight of 448,000 lbs. on 14 axles
– Neosho Ridge, North Fork, and Kings Point windfarms have been completed or are winding
down, windfarm loads going out of Great Plains are coming to an end for the winter, but
equipment will be coming into Great Plains in the near future. We have issued a total of 2065 permits to date.
Setbacks should be a reasonable distance from roads and homes, 1.5 to 2.0 times the height of the tower should be sufficient.
At some time in the near future I would like to try and include Wayne Blackbourn, engineer for Coffey County in either a face to face meeting or zoom to go over his presentation on the Coffey County wind farm projects.