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Home Energy Debate heats up over proposed wind energy project in Harvey County

Debate heats up over proposed wind energy project in Harvey County


HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) – It’s been a point of contention for months in Harvey County: whether a wind-energy project should move forward. While some home and landowners already signed leases for the proposed project but others are speaking out against it.

At a meeting in October, Harvey County commissioners approved modified regulations for a wind farm project. NextEra Energy wants to build wind turbines in western Harvey County but some who live in the area raised concerns, including how the project could impact quality of life and land value. When the project came up again Tuesday morning, the Harvey County Commission meeting get a bit heated as opponents of the project continue voicing their concerns.

Bill Umholtz is a fourth-generation farmer on land between Newton and Hesston. His property would be impacted by the project.

“That’s within a mile and a half of my house, even though I’m fairly close to town,” Umholtz said.

Like many against the proposed wind farm, Umholtz said he’s concerned about potential health and quality-of-life impacts.

David Wefelt is among people who live in town and still have concerns about what’s planned within a few miles of them. If the project wins approval, Wefelt said turbines would be in his line of sight from his house. With a higher rural population in Harvey County, he said he feels it would be too close to other homes.

“If you look at the population density in rural Harvey County, it’s higher than probably any other county other than Sedgwick County,” he said.

With so much at stake, he’s hoping that a final decision concerning the project isn’t made lightly.

“This is a 100-year decision,” Wefelt said. “These are big, long-term decisions that we better get right.”

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