Harvey County residents react to commercial solar and wind farm ban
HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. (KAKE) - Some residents in Harvey County are breathing a sigh of relief after a long fight to keep wind farms out of the area.
Tuesday, the county commission voted unanimously to ban commercial wind and solar farms.
"We had wonderful people that helped us and supported this effort to stop this and Harvey County," said No Wind Turbines advocate Eileen Umholtz. "I mean, we had a core group that were such great workers."
Eileen, and her husband Kenny have been fighting for years to keep large scale wind and solar farms out of Harvey County.
"We were hearing of people that had health problems because of the noise, and shadow flicker and and then of course there were concerns about ground pollution because we're over the Equus Beds," said Kenny Umholtz.
Randy Hague is the commission chair, and said that Harvey County isn't the right place for that large of a project.
"The more I started researching it, the more I felt, it wasn't really a fit for Harvey County, because of our population density," Hague said. "You know, there's a lot better places to put wind farms than Harvey County."
Hague said that although large scale projects are banned, private businesses and organizations can still utilize wind and solar power.
"A commercial solar farm can consist of thousands of acres, and use up a lot of land," Hague said. "We're limiting it to 10 acre solar farms. And we're still going to allow solar in the county on homes, and actually we're going to allow wind generators on private homes, but not for commercial use."
The Umholtz's say they're grateful for Harvey County's planning and zoning advisory board, who presented many of their issues with wind and solar power at Tuesday's commission meeting.
NextEra Energy, the company behind the proposed wind farm, responded to the ban in a statement to KAKE News;
“We are disappointed by the commissioner’s decision to deny Harvey County residents the opportunity to participate in a renewable energy project and turn away a substantial investment for the county. For more than 20 years, NextEra Energy Resources has been helping fuel the state’s economic growth and quality of life - and the proposed Harvey Wind site would have provided significant benefits for the residents of the county,” said Sara Cassidy, Senior Manager, Development Communications.