BELLEVILLE, Kan. – We often hear about renewable energies becoming the future of power generation, but if you stop by the Republic County Board of Commissioner’s meeting you’ll find that’s a future not everyone wants to be a part of.
“Today would mark one, two, three, four, five, this is the sixth meeting in a row with the county commissioners’,” said Cuba, Kan. resident Mike Kolman.
Kolman is one of a group of concerned residents calling themselves the Republic County Responsible Wind Energy Group who feel a proposed wind farm could be the end of the community they know and love.
“Will anybody build a new house in the area? To replace the ones that are no longer here? Will it continue to decrease the population of the eastern part of the county?” said one concerned resident at Monday’s County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The project causing the consternation is NextEra Energy’s High Banks Wind Farm.
If it were to be built in Republic County, it would be the largest wind farm ever built in Kansas, bringing more towers than there are homes to the rural parts of the county.
“I think we mapped it out and when you actually see it people are like holy moly. Then we mapped out the homes in the area, there’s 176 homes for 185 towers,” said Kolman.
Kolman said those towers could bring plenty of problems ranging from safety concerns to quality of life issues.
But not everyone is opposed to what NextEra could bring to Republic County.
“We were one of the first ones they contacted in Republic County for the transmission line,” said Idan Kauer, another resident from Cuba.
Kauer is familiar with power transmission after working for decades as a lineman and sees renewables as the future of Republic County.
“There is going to be people that aren’t happy with it, I am sure but I think it’s one of the ways we need to go, it’s progress,” said Kauer.
Much like Kolman and Kauer, the county has become split on whether or not to support the High Banks Wind Farm, and Kolman said the conversations around the project have caused plenty of hard feelings between the two groups.
“You can feel the tension big time. You can feel it big time, neighbors are going to be lost. Friendships are going to be lost guaranteed. The walls will just get higher over this stuff,” said Kolman.
Despite sharing their concerns with the County Board of Commissioners, the work to acquire land and permits for the High Banks Wind Farms continues, leaving residents who oppose the project like Kolman feeling lost in the rush to establish renewable energy.
NTV News reached out to NextEra to talk about resident’s concerns with the project, but the company did not agree to an interview, they did however send us information over email regarding the project and its estimated completion time.
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