Jan. 21, 2004

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Contact: Lee Allison, Kansas Geological Survey, (785) 864-2108.

Kansas Geological Survey director appoints Wind and Prairie Task Force

LAWRENCE -- Seventeen people have been appointed to a task force designed to help deal with the issue of locating wind power facilities in the Kansas Flint Hills, Lee Allison, chair of the State Energy Resources Coordination Council and director of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas, announced today.

The Wind and Prairie Task Force, which will meet for the first time Jan. 23 in Topeka, was created at the request of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. It is charged with helping Flint Hills communities and the decision-making process related to the locating of wind-energy projects and the preservation of the tallgrass prairie. Wind-energy projects are in various stages of planning in Riley, Butler, Morris and Wabaunsee counties in the Flint Hills, raising concerns about the potential impact of these projects on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

The task force, which is to report to the governor by May 31, will hold a series of public hearings in Flint Hills communities, gathering information about issues related to wind power and the prairie.

The task force is co-chaired by Jerry Karr, Emporia, a member of the Kansas Senate from 1980 to 1998, and Jerry Lonergan, Topeka, president of Kansas Inc., the state's economic development research and policy agency.

Members of the task force are Rose Bacon, rancher, Council Grove; Claude Blevins, county zoning administrator, Alma; Sheila Frahm/John Strickler, Natural Resource Legacy Alliance, Colby/Manhattan; Jim Ludwig, Westar Energy, Topeka; Alan Phipps, county commissioner, Matfield Green; Alan Pollom, the Nature Conservancy, Topeka; Richard Porter, rancher, Reading; Scott Ritchie, rancher/businessman, Wichita; Richard Seaton, Audubon of Kansas, Manhattan; Jennifer States, wind developer, Lawrence; Don Stephens, rancher, Severy; Joe Stout, rancher, Cottonwood Falls; David Yearout, planning consultant, El Dorado; and Monty Wedel, county planner, Manhattan.

Members serving in a technical advisory capacity are Charles Benjamin, attorney, Lawrence; Niki Christopher, attorney, Lawrence; Ryan Dyer, Potawatomi tribe, Mayetta; Bruce Graham, Kansas Electric Power Cooperatives, Topeka; Mike Irvin, Kansas Farm Bureau, Manhattan; Ward Jewell, professor of electrical engineering, Wichita State University, Wichita; Ed Martinko, state biologist and director of the Kansas Biological Survey at KU, Lawrence; and Robert Robel, professor emeritus of biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

"The members of this task force bring an impressive set of credentials and knowledge," said Allison. "The group brings broad geographic representation from the Flint Hills-tallgrass prairie region. Just as importantly, they represent the range of community interests in preservation of the prairie and economic development of wind energy. I deeply appreciate their willingness to serve on the task force and to help communities as they grapple with this important issue.

More information about the task force and its plans is available at www.kansasenergy.org/sercc_wptf.htm.

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