Wind Energy Restrictions Debated in Kansas Senate

State Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Mike Thompson says that he is trying to protect landowners who fear that a proliferation of large turbines in their rural areas will drop property values and harm their quality of life.

The proposal has split fellow Republicans and inspired a strong backlash not only from environmentalists but also economic development officials who see wind energy as a jobs creator.

Thompson is pursuing a bill that would impose statewide regulations limiting turbines to one per square mile, and keeping them 1.5 miles from any home or public building.

An industry that once supplied only a small fraction of the state’s electricity has since been celebrated by governors of both parties, and gained influence at the Statehouse.

Wind farms became the state’s largest source of electricity in 2019, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, accounting for about 41% of it, compared to 33% for coal-fired power plants.

Kansas has more than 3,000 turbines and 40 wind farms, according to industry supporters.