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Minutes for SB353 - Committee on Utilities

Short Title

Establishing certain setback and construction requirements for wind energy facilities and certain operating conditions for existing wind energy facilities.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 10, 2022

Nick Myers, Office of the Revisor of Statues gave an overview of the bill, explaining SB353 concerns wind generation facilities; relating to construction
and setback requirements; requires local boards of county commissioners to approve applications for construction; establishes certain notification and health and safety requirements; and establishes certain operating conditions for existing facilities. Among the requirements are no facility shall be constructed within the state unless the setback distance from the each wind turbine of the facility is not less than 10 times the system height or 5,280 feet, whichever is greater, from certain properties, including, among others, non participating landowner's property, federal wildlife refuges, and public parks.  The bill provides for a number of health and safety requirements if a proposed wind energy facility would include any industrial wind turbine with a generation capacity of 1 MW or more.

The Chairman called for neutral oral testimony on the bill.

Neutral Oral Testimony

Jay Hall, Legislative Policy Director and General Counsel, Kansas Association of Counties, provided neutral testimony on the bill.  He stated the decision of whether or not have wind energy projects in a county is a local decision for the local officials to consider, and for individual landowners to decide whether to participate or not, and the bill should be clear that existing facilities are exempt from the legislation. (Attachment 1)

Brad Loveless, Secretary of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) provided neutral testimony on the bill.  He stated “public hunting area” and “public park” are both broad terms which KDWP would recommend be narrowed a bit, and the setback requirement needs to be amended from 5,280 feet to three miles to protect whooping cranes and migratory bat species.  He also stated there is an existing US Fish and Wildlife Service 3-mile buffer requirement between wind turbines and prairie chicken migration areas. (Attachment 2)

Following neutral testimony, there was a period of questions and answers.