April 23, 2004 | KU Radio News Line

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Contact: Frank Barthell, University Relations, (785) 864-8869.

Radio News Line text:
Wind energy and prairie conservation can co-exist: Geological Survey director

The committee charged with developing options for wind energy in Kansas will hold two public forums in the Flint Hills this month before preparing its final report to the governor's office.

Lee Allison is the director of the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas. Allison is chairing the State Energy Resource Coordination Council and worked with the governor's office to write up the charge to the 17-member Wind and Prairie Task Force.

The first public forum will be from 5 to 8 P-M on Wednesday, April 28, at the Manhattan Fire Department headquarters. The second forum will be from 5 to 8 P-M on Thursday, April 29, at Butler County Community College in El Dorado.
Allison: "We want the public to come and participate, and learn what the task force has learned, look at some of the options and some of the materials, and help the task force come to conclusions and put its report together." (12 sec.)

In January, Governor Kathleen Sebelius asked the energy council to complete the Wind and Prairie Report by May 31.
Allison: "The charge to the task force is to find ways to help preserve the prairie and also encourage wind development in appropriate areas, and how do we find the balance of making both of those work. It's not an either/or, it's how do we move forward with both?" (14 sec.)

Allison says the report will evaluate several possibilities that address the issue.
Allison: "The task force is moving towards development of options, and an understanding of the implications or the questions that may be raised with each of the options, because there's not one single solution that will deal with all of the different parts of this controversy." (15 sec.)

Allison says it's premature to say how the state will use the council's report.
Allison: "There may be legislation that comes out of some of this, some it might be simply executive decisions. Some of it might be more policy at the local level that the governor would help support." (11 sec.)

In addition to suggesting options for wind energy development, the council's report also will include information designed to help local officials decide what's best for their communities.
Allison: "There's also some siting guidelines that we're working on, some tools that we're putting together that would help local government and citizens analyze the impact of wind. We're developing some lease criteria for landowners to consider if they're going to lease their land for wind." (16 sec.)

Allison says task force members represent a cross-section of interest groups.
Allison: "We have ranchers, wind developers, environmentalists, county planners, county commissioners, we've got people from utilities, people representing different viewpoints, different areas of expertise and geographic distribution." (13 sec.)

Allison recognizes the issue of wind energy is controversial, so he's pleased the task force is making progress.
Allison: "It's been very gratifying to see the task force really working together, getting up to speed on understanding the issues, learning to accept and respect each other's opinions on this. So I think we're all very encouraged that we're going to come out of this with something that we can agree on." (16 sec.)

The Wind and Prairie Task Force will meet again from 10 A-M to 3:30 P-M May 11 at the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation in Topeka. The meeting will incorporate public comment gathered at the April forums and is open to the public.

For more information on the forums and future task force meetings, or for minutes from past meetings, visit W-W-W dot Kansas-energy dot org and click on "Wind and Prairie Task Force."

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