‘I don’t care about their personal choice’: Future of wind farm in Republic County in doubt
Credit: Oct. 17 | written by Pilar Pedraza | kake.com ~~
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The fight over whether to allow a wind farm to move in next door is splitting another Kansas county down the middle.
Dozens of families in Republic County are the latest to fight over a proposed NextEra wind farm moving in.
Many say they’re worried the 650-foot-tall turbines will hurt their farms and damage their way of life.
Some don’t want the farms at all.
“I’m not going to stand here and talk about my personal choice to put these up,” Tyson Merritt told commissioners Monday morning. He opposes the wind farm proposal. “I don’t care about their personal choice. I care about the future of my children. I care about the future of other’s children.”
Others say they just don’t think the proposed contract with NextEra has enough protections for neighbors who aren’t leasing land to the energy company.
And some can’t wait for the wind turbines to arrive. like an 87-year-old woman who told commissioners Monday she grew up without electricity and loves the idea of now helping light up the world from her corner of Kansas.
“When I grew up, we had no refrigeration. We had to carry our milk down in the cellar, and that was a lot of steps down there, so it would be fresh. So, we keep it fresh for the next day,” she said. “And we had to go get it down there. And I’m 87. If I had to do that now without electricity, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
They’ve been fighting over the proposed wind farm since last spring. The battle has gotten highly emotional at times.
“I do not care about these godforsaken machines that need to be relegated to the past as a failed experiment, like they are,” Merritt finished Monday. “Thank you for your time.”
He walked away from the microphone to applause from half the room. The other half was silent.
Another man told commissioners he probably should keep his mouth shut, but couldn’t.
“I was wondering, if we found a massive oil reserve under the eastern part of Republic County, would we be having this conversation?” he asked rhetorically.
Layne Holmes says he’s just worried about what the wind farm will mean for his crops and his pocketbook.
“My question always has always been, because of other neighbors putting up the wind towers and I suffer the loss, who pays me that loss?” he asked.
He’s worried about still being able to spray fungicides on his crops from airplanes, aerial spraying or crop dusting as some know it. Not being able to do that means chances of money lost.
“Upwards to $30,000 – $40,000 loss per quarter.” he said. “Now, that’s probably extreme cases. But there are extreme cases that happen.”
Meeting minutes show back in August aerial sprayers briefed commissioners the difficulties of spraying around wind towers. But Layne and his neighbors feel the commission still hasn’t answered their questions, so they’ve hired an attorney to go over the contract for them and the county.
KAKE News did try to speak with supporters of the wind farm for this story, but we weren’t able to catch up with them after the meeting. We also tried to speak with the attorney for NextEra and with the county commissioners. Both declined. One of the commissioners told me they can’t speak, because another group has also hired a lawyer and threatened to sue.
At last check, the Republic County Commission was still expecting to hold a final vote on this proposed wind farm next week.
KAKE News has done multiple stories about NextEra in the past including one on wind farms and weather radars and one on Reno County landowners fighting the company in court.
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