A tallgrass prairie area in the Flint Hills in Kansas will be protected from commercial wind development, according to the state's new Road Map for Wind Energy Policy.
Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., says the extreme rarity of the tallgrass prairie located in the Flint Hills calls for extraordinary care and attention.
‘I do not, however, wish to convey a negative message about the future of wind energy in our state,’ he says. ‘My administration will continue to work with wind developers and wholeheartedly support their activities in other parts of the state.’
Brownback added that the ‘Tallgrass Heartland’ designation will not prohibit the construction of necessary electric transmission improvements. In addition, wind projects that currently have power purchases agreements (PPAs) within protected areas will not be affected; however, these projects will not be allowed to expand.
Westar Energy owns two wind farms in the state and has PPAs with several others.
‘From the beginning of our commitment to wind power, we've been equally committed to locating our wind farms in environmentally appropriate areas,’ says Bill Moore, president and CEO of Westar Energy. ‘We support Governor Brownback's broadening of the preserved area of the Flint Hills. We also applaud his sensible approach to maintaining a balance between the environment, energy and the economy.’
The plan is expected to encourage commercial wind energy development as well as projects that expand transmission lines in the state, such as the KETA project and the Y-Plan and a direct-current line.