Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Governor of Kansas Calls for Voluntary Moratorium on Wind Projects

The Kansas City Star is reporting today that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has asked wind farm developers to voluntarily refrain from planning any projects in the Flint Hill prairie. The move will place more than 3 millions acres temporarily off-limits until the state has an opportunity to review and refine its energy and economic development plans.

The "moratorium" means that wind developers may miss out on the benefits of the 1.8 cent per kW federal production tax credit, which is due to expire in December of 2005. A number of farm owners are also unhappy:
"John D. Cosgrove, whose family homesteaded his farm in 1859 five miles north of Council Grove, said he and almost 30 other ranchers and farmers were losing out. They had signed contracts that would have given them either a flat fee of about $3,750 per year per turbine or a smaller flat fee and 1 percent of the revenue."

Wind power opponents have fought the turbines in the area because the Flint Hills prairie region contains the majority what is left of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which used to cover millions of square miles in the Midwest.

The Governor expects to have formal recommendations out in the next several weeks. The Wichita Eagle reports that a panel appointed by the Governor is considering a range of guidelines including:
"county zoning regulations, completion of a state study on alternative economic development, and creation of guidelines and incentives to protect the tallgrass prairie.

Greenwire has more on the Governor Sebelius' moratorium (subscription required).

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