Wind Power - hot button topic in Kansas Flint Hills

Wind power is a clean natural resource but is it good for Kansas? These wind towers are actually a very controversial topic in conversation with cattle ranchers in the Flint Hills of Kansas. If your ground is situated in an area that receives the optimum amount of wind and has main transport electrical lines running near or through it, you may be a candidate for wind towers. But the Kansas legislature has placed a moratorium on these in the Flint Hills.

I have to be honest, I am not really sure my feelings about having these huge towers situated along the tops of hills in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. I love the unobstructed views that we have of the sunsets over the prairie and I can almost imagine what it must have looked like when the homesteaders traveled in their covered wagons across the hills of our pasture to select their own homesite. The wind towers certainly do not add to the beauty of the landscape. But the real question they detract?

That is not a question I can answer--there are people on both sides of this issue and mostly for aesthetic reasons. There are a few conservation issues that have been brought up, but I think with the recent discussion of the safety of nuclear power (in light of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan) I think we need to utilize every form of safe, clean power that we have available.

These towers are situated in the middle of the prairie along Interstate-70 through Kansas. They are just west of the Flint Hills near Ellsworth, Kansas. They are at a location that has historically received wind gusts on even a calm day! As I drove through them today, I had to stop and snap a few photos as I truly do like how they look on the prairie. You may not be able to tell but the black dots below them in the top photo are cattle! These towers are huge!!

The controversy comes from ranchers looking to earn some extra money by allowing wind power companies to erect these towers on their land. They usually pay money for some kind of lease and there is an annual payment to the owner of the land.  These farmers and ranchers are able to make some extra money with no extra work! Why is that wrong?

On the other side of the issue is people who say that the wind towers spoil the "viewscape" and they alter the wind flow patterns and scare away wildlife. I have read studies that show no affect on the local environment and others that show a negative effect. The only thing you can't argue with is when someone says they are ugly. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

Realistically, it is not a problem I need to, or can, solve. My land is not in an area where wind towers will be placed. But my question is, who am I to say that my neighbor can't have them on his land? I'd really rather put laws in place that say only pretty houses with garages behind the house can be built. But that is not a realistic law...even though I think that is important to the looks of the house! I don't believe the legislature has any right to say what I can and can't do aesthetically to my property! I pay taxes (a lot of property taxes) on this land. I believe that I have the right to build an ugly house, or a bunch of wind towers if I want to!

And, frankly...I don't think these are any uglier than the power lines, telephone lines, interstate system and metropolitan areas that crisscross our country! All in all, it is not a question we will answer here. But I thought you'd be interested in the discussions behind the scenes when wind towers are erected on the prairie.


  1. Well, I see it's controversial everywhere. They are trying to put some up in our county here in SE Oregon (private property but within view of the wilderness area of Steens Mountain).


    Affordable energy...I question that.

    My brother was here last weekend hunting with a friend, and his friend works on repairing these wind towers. They have to be serviced every two years...hauling them into Portland OR from wherever they came from...and then hauling them back again. They are so large that only one can be put on a truck.

    Then, in our situation, a new transmission line has to be built crossing BLM and other private properties...our property being one of those properties. The whole thing has created a lot of frustration for everyone in the county.

    What's the right answer...I don't know either...

  2. Very nice post. Hope the trip went well. I'm enough of a preservationist not to want them in the Flint Hills, but they are pretty... on someone else's land. We have land near the one's south of Concordia, but not in the path. Dave E. Anderson

  3. Nice post, there hae been controversies up here in New Brunswick, Canada as well. Myself, I think they look really cool on the horizon. But that is just my opinion.
    I think what people should think about is ... ugly or not ... would they rather have a nuclear mess like in Japan?? We (as a society) need the power, and this is truly a renewable resource (the wind that powers these turbines, may be the same wind that powers other turbines in the next state / province and so on).
    I am not an environmentalist, I'm a farmer and engineer, but I think wind power will help us get away from Middle east oil, and nuclear power, and maybe our kids will still be able to farm as we do in the future.
    Trevor Welch

  4. We have a fast-growing crop of wind-towers in our area too.
    They're noisey, but I too am reminded that they don't stink like the oil/gas derricks that were once out here. They don't bother the cattle and the people that service them are all very polite and don't have to be reminded 100's of times to shut the gates.
    Our schools have also benefited from the tax collected on them. Landowners have benefited pretty good from them, but there are always drawbacks.

  5. Nice post - I agree that people should be able to do what they want with their property. If a rancher has the opportunity to earn a little extra money by doing no work that is wonderful!!

    There is a large strech of these along the highway connecting Arizona and California and it is beautiful sight! While they make be ugly, seeing hundreds of these strech across the rolling hills is beauitful!

    Come check out my new blog!


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