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How to get involved in local decisions on wind power in Kansas


Wind power in Kansas and Missouri

Wind power is growing in eastern Kansas and in Missouri, promising clean energy but sparking debates. The opposition is driven by both legitimate concerns and conspiracy theories.

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As wind developers look across the state for new counties to build in, more communities will be holding public discussions about new projects.

While there are some factors that citizens have no control over, such as wind potential and zoning regulations, there are tried and true ways to influence local decisions.

Here are some things you can do to be involved in the process.

Write your elected officials

If you’re not sure whether your county will be the site of a wind farm, or if you would like to encourage or discourage a new project, writing to elected officials can be a great first step.

It’s one way to inform leaders of citizen interest in an issue. This lets politicians know that there’s either a hunger for this type of development or resistance, which can help inform their decisions.

Attend public meetings

In most places, the local county commission will have the most say in whether a project will happen. Connecting with county officials can be key in communicating what citizens want. The earlier this occurs, the better, as citizens can put in requests for specific amendments to agreements the county will make with a developer.

Community meetings can be a great way to brainstorm ideas and learn from others. People will have different talents and perspectives, and these meetings can be essential in utilizing these skills for future efforts.

This can help take the temperature of existing emotions in the community and understand where potential opposition or support is.

Get in the know

Industry organizations like the Kansas Advanced Power Alliance and the Climate and Energy Project make it their mission to spread reliable information about wind energy in the state.

Follow these groups or similar organizations to keep up to date on what’s happening with wind energy and if there’s any legislation cooking that could help or hurt your county’s chances of getting a wind farm.

Go online

If you know your county could be home to a new wind farm, building connections can be the first step to starting a movement. Beginning where people are already at means you can reach a broader audience. Creating a web page or social media group can draw attention to a potential project.

Support legislation

Proposed legislation on wind energy at the state level can be an incentive to or discourage further development. Understanding what this legislation is and communicating with your legislative representatives can be another way to have a role in wind energy development, even if it doesn’t come to your county.

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Sarah Spicer reports for The Wichita Eagle and focuses on climate change in the region. She joined the Eagle in June 2020 as a Report for America corps member. A native Kansan, Spicer has won awards for her investigative reporting from the Kansas Press Association, the Chase and Lyon County Bar Association and the Kansas Sunshine Coalition.

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