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Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New wind farm helps change town’s fortunes

October 31, 2007

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— In operation for less than a year, the Bluegrass Ridge Farm with its giant turbines has become the face of this struggling northwest Missouri community.

Missouri's first commercial wind farm has literally been a windfall for this town of about 1,000 residents 80 miles north of Kansas City.

Local officials are planning a new $250,000 visitors' center, the county is looking at some much-needed road and infrastructure work, and the school district is thinking about unfreezing teacher salaries and adding computer labs.

"We here in this small community are just hanging on," said Dexall Swan, a lifelong King City resident. "Any little bit helps."

The wind farm has 27 massive turbines - which peak at 262 feet and can be seen from miles away - spread across 6,000 acres of farmland. At times it can be a surreal sight as the giant blades spin steadily in the wind.

Since the first turbines started turning in March, tourists have been flocking to the community from St. Joseph, Kansas City and even Iowa to see them.

"It sure is a novelty, seeing those big ol' windmills out there turning," Mayor Jim Gillespie said. "We've embraced it."

Also embraced is the injection of revenue the wind farm has brought to the county. Next year, more than $300,000 in new property tax money will go into the Gentry County coffers. The school district, which suffered 9 percent budget and personnel cuts a few years ago, is expected to receive about $200,000 more.

"This will keep us from having to go back to the taxpayers in the next two to five years," said school district Superintendent Kendall Ebersold. "And it will allow us to become competitive in trying to find the best teachers in the area and retaining the ones we have."

Tom Carnahan, of St. Louis, is the son of late Gov. Mel Carnahan and president of Wind Capital Group, which developed the King City wind farm. He said construction could begin next year on another wind farm just south of town that would be at least twice as big as the first one.

"Wind energy is by far the most efficient and cost-effective renewable energy out there," Carnahan said. "Because of that, I think we can expect it to continue to grow."

Decisions like one made by Kansas' top regulator to reject two coal-powered electricity plants because of concerns about potential carbon emissions seem to support that contention.

Kansas has three wind farms up and running, and there could be 10 or more by the end of 2008.

At King City, farmers are paid $3,000 a year for each turbine on their property. That means more money will be circulating through town to go along with the influx of money from curious onlookers who come from other areas to see the gigantic turbines.

Still, for some residents there is a downside. Charlie Porter, who doesn't have any turbines on his property but several near his home, said the turbines have ruined the lives of his family.

"If you don't live underneath one of them and you drive down the highway, they look kind of neat," said Porter, who owns 20 acres in King City. "But for us, it's been a nightmare. They've ruined the equity in our home. The noise keeps us up at night. The shadows invade our home."

Comments

lounger 7 years, 1 month ago

This is what its all about!! Grand!! The nay sayers must read this. Wind is Pollution free and it CAN work.

cowboy 7 years, 1 month ago

kind of intrusive if you're close , if the gov was serious they'd put together a coalition of scientists and manufacturers and figure out how to manufacture solar power systems that can be built for an affordable cost. currently its about 30-45 grand for a workable system , only the rich can afford to install. This should be an absolute priority and a federal non-profit formed to make this technology affordable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"currently its about 30-45 grand for a workable system"

Depends on what you mean by workable-- under different definitions, a workable solar-power system can be built for less than half that amount. But I agree, that the tax laws should be revamped, and R&D should be increased to encourage more solar-power systems.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

""If you don't live underneath one of them and you drive down the highway, they look kind of neat," said Porter, who owns 20 acres in King City. "But for us, it's been a nightmare. They've ruined the equity in our home. The noise keeps us up at night. The shadows invade our home.""

If he is close enough to one of these turbines for this to be true, then there are big problems with how these were sited. Otherwise, it sounds like he's just pissed off that he doesn't get a $3000 check for one.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

If you intend to run a McMansion that is as energy-inefficient as most tend to be, then not even $30-45 thousand would buy an adequate solar-power system. So, yes, definition is everything.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Typical Marion-- pretending to know something while mostly just trying to draw attention to himself.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for contributing to the discussion, bowhunter.

oldgoof 7 years, 1 month ago

Next time I am to receive major surgery or undertake a lawsuit, I am going to check in here first, because, wow, won't Bozo already know the ins-and-outs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Hey, oldgood, we're all "expert" bozos on this bus, including you.

dirkleisure 7 years, 1 month ago

Wasn't Garden City planning on building a visitor's center so people could come and see the new coal plant?

gr 7 years, 1 month ago

The "expert" bozo says a solar-power system (as opposed to a wind-power system, though wind is driven by solar) wouldn't be adequate unless use is cut down. Are we talking about alternative sources our reduction in use? You can't compare a different source if you imply less use - two different issues.

As far as cost benefit goes, you mean if the government pays you, if tourists come to gawk and "spend", that makes it "efficient"? Has anyone presented a cost-benefit scenario? Let's see how "efficient" these alternative energy sources are. They may be "better" for whatever that means, but how come "green" usually costs more?

As far as shadows goes, shadows extend a long distance at sunrise and sunset.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"The "expert" bozo says a solar-power system (as opposed to a wind-power system, though wind is driven by solar) wouldn't be adequate unless use is cut down."

I said nothing of the sort. If you don't want to be efficient in your power usage, you just need a bigger system, and even the $30-45 thousand range that cowboy mentioned will not be enough. It's not rocket science (although any logical thought process is "rocket science" to a large number of posters on this forum.)

All our current major power sources are heavily subsidized, which is one reason why alternatives have a difficult time "competing."

shockchalk 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks Bowhunter for typing what we were all thinking!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Has the "rocket science" thing got you down, shockchalk?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"Maybe Charlie Porter's house is downwind from the wind farm?"

Good point. It's too bad the reporter didn't give us more info, because wind farms are going to become commonplace over the next few years, and questions like this need to be answered if they are to be sited appropriately.

cowboy 7 years, 1 month ago

There are quite a few new homebuilders on the Olympic Peninsula putting in solar powered homes , minimum cost is 35 -40 grand , this also puts you in a position to sell your excess back to the grid . While I think this is grand and if you have the money to do it on a new home great , but the personal hard dollar payback isn't there at those costs. I don't know what the recovery is from the power company but I doubt it is enough to make these pay off over ten years compared to a solid energy efficient home on conventional power. My main point being that this effort should not be left to the "for profit" industry. Its important enough for the future of our country to put it in an extreme incubator and hatch the damn thing .

Its not intrusive , requires no additional land , and can't be owned by a utility. we need to quit sucking on the big grid.

KsTwister 7 years, 1 month ago

Told you so. Kansas as slow as you get.

badger 7 years, 1 month ago

No energy option is 'pollution-free.'

Wind and solar power stations may not create chemical pollution in their operation, but they still require raw materials to be turned into finished materials, and that does generate pollution. Additionally, wind turbines may mar the landscape and generate noise pollution, and solar power stations can increase the amount of impermeable ground cover. There really is no magic pollution-free power bullet. Iti's important to keep that perspective.

Why do I support wind and solar operations? Mostly, because the effect is primarily localized to the area benefiting from the location of the station. A coal plant not only produces chemical pollution that can be carried hundreds of miles away, but it also requires a mining operation to support it that may be half a country away from the power plant.

There's a coal plant that's slated to go in upwind from Austin. We had no opportunity to vote or comment on its placement, and Austinites who object to a power plant over a hundred miles away, from which we'll neither get power nor jobs, are being called 'selfish'. Why do we object? Because based on wind projections, the emissions from the plant will significantly affect our air quality, and our status as a 'green' city draws a lot of business here. If we lose the edge on air and water quality, then our ability to compete for white-collar high-tech businesses is impaired, and our economy suffers. We eat the consequences for an energy decision we had nothing to do with, made in a community a two-hour drive from downtown, which is benefiting at our expense from the placement of the plant. We're trying to block the plant, but being hurt by Austin's efforts to exceed federal air quality standards. We're being told, "Hey, hippies, thanks for your hard work! You made it a whole lot easier to find someplace to put this plant that won't send Dallas or Houston over air quality limits any more often than they already blow past them! Suck it up, granola-eating-freaks!"

That's why I prefer wind and solar. They're not without their problems, but when a community's deciding whether or not to put in wind turbines, they're not fiddling with the air quality of a city three counties away.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"no, actually, they'll thrive."

Are you referring to Santa Claus?

ralphralph 7 years, 1 month ago

Until a few years ago, I lived in a HOUSE that cost about $ 40,000. I replaced the natural gas furnace and central air for under $ 3,500. Hard to sell me on solar.

To me, the future of Kansas energy is .... Clean. Safe. Nuclear.

salad 7 years, 1 month ago

There is still nothing other than natural gas, coal or nuclear to replace baseload generating capacity. Wind and solar will be great if we, as a society, don't mind reverting to a colonial era society with better hygine. Maybe a better analogy would be a Bagdad style society, minus the violence. Minimal industry and electricity a couple hours a day.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 1 month ago

There are a lot of misconceptions about wind-generated electricity. Remember folks, that wind power even though it is renewable is NOT 'Green Energy'. At least not by today's definition. Wind energy is extremely inefficient, and will increase rather than reduce the need for additional, reliable, energy production in the vicinity

Furthermore, diesel engines are required to 'kick-start' turbines that have come to rest. A tower must be in operation for 7 years just to recover the carbon footprint of its installation. The lifetime of towers is still a matter for speculation, but abandoned windmills litter stretches of the California landscape, leaking toxic fluids and heavy metals.

Lack of Regulations Ensuring Corporate Responsibility is another problem. There is a complete lack of federal standards regulating the operation, maintenance, and environmental responsibilities of wind farms. So the rules are made up by the local towns who are wholly unqualified.

The real benefactors of wind farms on the corporations who build them and the corporations that maintain them. Local benefit is seen in some incremental tax dollars, and that's about it. There is not a single community that has ever hosted such a development that has not lived to regret it.

Wind sounds good, feels bad. Otherwise, why on earth wouldn't we be generating a huge amoun of the country's electrical needs with wind. There are good reasons for the death of all wind projects to date. Wait and see.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

" Remember folks, that wind power even though it is renewable is NOT 'Green Energy'"

In an economy and culture that is almost exclusively powered by fossil fuels and nuclear energy, it'll be a long time before anything is purely "green." That said, such alternatives as wind are considerably greener than just doing the old same thing.

"and will increase rather than reduce the need for additional, reliable, energy production in the vicinity"

That's utter nonsense.

"Furthermore, diesel engines are required to 'kick-start' turbines that have come to rest."

I hadn't heard that before, and for the very largest of turbines, that might very well be the case. Nevertheless, the overall amount of diesel fuel consumed would be very small, and it's a very appropriate use for that technology and fuel.

"A tower must be in operation for 7 years just to recover the carbon footprint of its installation."

I'd like to see your math on that, but I don't doubt that there is a carbon footprint for the manufacture and installation of a wind turbine. Even if your math (or did someone else figure it out, and you just didn't bother to give proper credit?) is correct, the construction of a coal-powered plant is likely even more carbon intensive per megawatt of electricity produced, and its operation will only add to the footprint.

"The lifetime of towers is still a matter for speculation, but abandoned windmills litter stretches of the California landscape, leaking toxic fluids and heavy metals"

Undoubtedly, there are examples of older technology that have outlived their usefulness. But this seems like another example of hysterical exaggeration that typifies your entire post.

"There is a complete lack of federal standards regulating the operation, maintenance, and environmental responsibilities of wind farms."

The situation is even worse with nuclear and fossil-fuel generation facilities, and they pose actual rather than imagined risks.

"The real benefactors of wind farms on the corporations who build them and the corporations that maintain them."

Can you name a single industry in which corporations don't benefit (or at least expect to benefit) from the businesses in which they engage?

"Local benefit is seen in some incremental tax dollars, and that's about it."

The local benefits to communities is quite real, and has been demonstrated numerous times.

"There is not a single community that has ever hosted such a development that has not lived to regret it."

Really? How do you know this? Are the residents of the city in this article lying?

"Otherwise, why on earth wouldn't we be generating a huge amoun of the country's electrical needs with wind. "

Perhaps because the old-line energy companies (and people like you who have invested in them) don't want the competition?

budwhysir 7 years, 1 month ago

Wind is free, how can one capture it and sell if for electricity?? Im not sure I follow this but I will just collect my own wind if I can make power out of it

snowWI 7 years, 1 month ago

Wind farms definitely spread the economic benefit to MANY rural counties in the plains and midwest. A coal plant, on the other hand, only spreads economic benefits to one county. In terms of economic development involving many counties large-scale wind farms make a lot more sense.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 1 month ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus and the rest of you sleepwalkers who think that (for some completely unknown reason you never seem to mention) wind energy will become viable needs only look at the history of wind energy.

It Don't Work.

And it never will.

It's too bad, but that's the truth in the past and it's the truth now.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 1 month ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus, just curious. Where on earth did you hear that there are fewer regulations for coal and nuclear than wind?

That's just stupid.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 1 month ago

Possession......hmmmmm..... What I said about the BS of wind energy...forget it. I just found a use for the family farm.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 1 month ago

They had hair before they got too close to the wind propellers.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 1 month ago

Wait until pervasive wind farms start interfering with migratory bird patterns, and endangered species. The discussion will start all over again. "Save the planet for our children." Enviro socialists are far more apocalyptic than Fred Phelps could ever dream of.

budwhysir 7 years, 1 month ago

with all the busses running around filling the air with smoke, who has time to worry about coal plants?

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