December 2, 2003
Lee Allison, Chairman
I am writing today to formally request that a special task force of the State Energy Resources Coordinating Council (SERCC) be appointed to study and make recommendations relating to the siting of Windpower Projects in the Flint Hills/Tallgrass Prairie region of our state.
As you know, for the past decade studies have consistently ranked Kansas in the top three states for potential wind resources. A study released in 2002 ranked Kansas as the number one state in potential wind resources when existing transmission availability was factored in. The development of our state’s wind energy potential could play a role in helping to turn our state back into an energy exporter, enhance economic development and promote future energy security and independence.
At the same time, we all recognize the beauty of the Flint Hills. We also recognize that the Flint Hills contain approximately two-thirds of all the remaining resource of unplowed tallgrass prairie in the world, and is the only area with landscape expanses of tallgrass prairie. This is a true treasure of national and international proportion, and as Kansans we fully understand we are the stewards of this treasure.
Today, we find many of our communities and citizens struggling to make tough choices as they work to enhance the opportunities provided by the development of our state’s wind energy resources while striving to meet our responsibilities of being good stewards of some of our most precious and beautiful natural resources. As Governor, I believe the state has a role to play in assisting our communities and citizens by developing tools and resources that can help them in the decision-making process. In my view, a special S.E.R.C.C. Task Force is the appropriate state entity for the development of such tools and resources.
The Task Force should thoroughly examine and consider all of the key issues involved and recommend fundamental guidelines, principles, and best practices that can be utilized by local governments, landowners, project developers, and other interested stakeholders to site future wind energy projects in this environmentally sensitive region of the state. As it studies the issues involved, the Task Force should solicit input and information from a wide variety of experts, as well as the general public. The Task Force’s primary goal should be to develop recommendations that will help decision-makers find an appropriate balance that promotes our state’s wind energy potential and preserves those natural ecosystems and places of scenic beauty, like the Flint Hills and the tallgrass prairie that cannot be easily replaced.
The Task Force should be composed of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences that will ensure adequate consideration and analysis of all relevant issues. I ask that the Task Force complete its study and report its recommendations back to me no later than May 31, 2004. It is my sincere hope that decision-makers will allow time for this process to work. My Administration is hopeful that some consensus can be reached about the delicate balance between encouraging economic development of environmentally sensitive energy resources and the protection of the prairie.
Thank you very much for your attention to this request and for your service to the people of Kansas.