SERCC
State Energy Resources Coordination Council

Wind and Prairie Task Force Charge


The Final Report of the Wind and Prairie Task Force was delivered to Governor Sebelius on June 7, 2004.

Click here to download the report.


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Background

The State Energy Resources Coordination Council is the energy-planning and policy arm of state government. SERCC’s Kansas Energy Plan 2003 identified wind power as having potential to be a significant energy source in Kansas.

Parts of the Flint Hills have high potential for wind energy. The presence of electric transmission lines crossing the Flint Hills between the state’s two largest population centers also makes the region suitable for the siting of wind turbines to produce electricity.

Commercial wind-energy development is relatively new in Kansas, and landowners and local governments are still learning about the issues and concerns involved in siting increasingly larger turbines.

Concerns have been raised that wind-energy development may further fragment remaining untilled Tallgrass Prairie, impact wildlife, and create visual and auditory nuisances to neighbors. Each county in the Flint Hills region is following a steep learning curve to understand and resolve a complex set of questions and issues.

It is appropriate to step back from the contentious debates of specific proposals to consider broad principles and guidelines, to develop expertise, and to provide planning tools for all parties so as to better make informed decisions.

Charge to the Task Force

The SERCC Wind and Prairie Task Force is established to carry out the Governor’s goal of assisting local communities in their decision-making processes relating to siting of wind-energy projects in the Flint Hills region and helping resolve potential conflicts between economic development and preservation of the Tallgrass Prairie.

The Task Force is charged to:

  1. identify and analyze relationships between areas of tallgrass prairie most appropriate for preservation and areas most appropriate or desired for wind development;
  2. recommend guidelines, principles, and best practices to be utilized at the local level to help site wind-energy projects;
  3. recommend voluntary guidelines or model agreements for land leases for wind-energy development;
  4. recommend voluntary local siting guidelines for wind-energy development;
  5. develop tools that can be used in the decision-making process to site wind- energy projects;
  6. identify policies or authorizations needed by local government to address multi-county or regional issues; andreview efforts for land trusts and other mechanisms to preserve the prairie;
  7. review efforts for land trusts and other mechanisms to preserve the prairie; and
  8. consider that wind energy in the Flint Hills cannot be viewed in isolation--anything the Task Force recommends may have application and be of value to other areas of the state (added 2/2004; see Governor's message, January 23, 2004).

The WPTF should consider this document to be a starting point. The task force is encouraged to use its expertise to make sure the proper questions are being asked and to pursue the issues in whatever direction they need to go.

The WPTF is to accept public and expert comments in such a way as to minimize confrontation and polarization. The goal is to demonstrate procedures that can serve as models to most effectively hear different views, share information, and build consensus or at least understanding for decision-making.

Specific questions

In order to carry out the charge, the task force will need to answer the following questions that are specific to the Flint Hills/ Tallgrass Prairie:

  • What is the extent and nature of Tallgrass Prairie lands?
  • Where are the areas of electricity transmission and other types of development in the Flint Hills/Tallgrass Prairie?
  • What areas of Prairie have the highest need for preservation?
  • What areas of Prairie are most susceptible to wind-energy development?
  • What are the potential impacts of wind development on wildlife, viewshed, and soundscape?
  • Where are the major electricity transmission corridors in the Flint Hills/Tallgrass Prairie? What is the existing and anticipated future capacity on the transmission lines? How much additional wind-generated electricity can be accommodated by the system?
  • What state resources are currently available to assist local government, landowners, and wind developers to make informed decisions?
  • What are the potential impacts of wind-energy development on tourism values in the Flint Hills/Tallgrass Prairie, and how might nature-based tourism be enhanced?

Timetable

The Governor directed that the WPTF complete its study and report its recommendations to her by May 31, 2004. The WPTF will set its own schedule as necessary to meet its charge. Progress reports will be made at each regularly scheduled meeting of SERCC and as otherwise necessary.

Organization

WPTF is tasked with developing and evaluating policy recommendations that are based on technical, economic, and social considerations. The WPTF may establish subcommittees and draw on outside expertise as necessary to achieve its goals.

The Wind and Prairie Task Force is established as an arm of the State Energy Resources Coordination Council, as authorized by Executive Order 2002-4, and operates under rules and guidelines applicable to official bodies of the State of Kansas.


SERCC Wind and Prairie Task Force
Web version June 7, 2004
URL: http://kec.kansas.gov/wptf/sercc_wptf_charge.htm