The success of Waverly and Coffey County landing a significant wind energy development has Lyon County officials wondering what might have been if another wind energy developer had followed through on its plans for a development near Reading.
Wind energy started becoming a topic of conversation in late 2008, and almost immediately RES Americas burst on the scene with plans for a 25,000-acre wind farm in both Lyon and Osage counties. Work halted abruptly three years later, with RES saying lower-than-expected wind speeds were the culprit.
Zoning and Floodplain Administrator Sam Seeley didn't buy that rationale when the company reversed course in December 2011, and he doesn't buy it now.
When it announced it was shutting down its work, RES notified landowners it was terminating lease agreements, but according to Seeley it still owns the land -- thus effectively keeping the land out of circulation for other possible development.
RES Americas management has not returned a call seeking comment. RES had been negotiating for months with power providers before terminating the project near Reading. No deals were in place when the company closed down operations in the area.
It's unclear how much Gov. Sam Brownback's moratorium on wind energy development west of Kansas Highway 99 may have played a role in the RES inability to line up a power provider. That moratorium was announced in May 2011.
On Wednesday, Kansas City Power & Light and the Sierra Club announced a 200-megawatt development near Waverly. EDP Renewables says the Waverly project will cover around 21,000 acres. It will build the plant and produce the energy for KCP&L.