Kansas governor signs bills dealing with wind turbine lighting, Evergy charges

by Rachel Mipro, Kansas Reflector
April 13, 2023

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday she has signed a bill meant to reduce the appearance of blinking red lights on wind turbines.

The law requires the installation of wind turbine light systems that are still visible to pilots but don’t ruin the night sky for Kansans living next to wind farms. There are about 4,000 wind turbines in the state.

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The House passed Senate Bill 49 118-6 in late March, after the Senate passed the bill 39-1 in February. The lights are meant to prevent low-flying aircraft from flying into wind turbines, but several lawmakers have said the lighting is an unnecessary nuisance.

Starting in July of this year, new wind turbine developers need to apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for lighting system mitigation installations.

Once approved, the turbine developer needs to install the system within 24 months. Existing wind turbines need to start applying to the FAA for the light mitigation systems in January of 2026.

Kelly also announced Thursday she had signed three other bills into law.

House Bill 2225 limits the ability of qualifying electric utility companies to pass transmission-related costs on to the public.

The legislation follows statewide anger about bigger electric bills, with lawmakers advancing the proposal as a way to limit Evergy’s ability to recoup construction costs from customers’ wallets.

The law stipulates that investor-owned electric utilities can’t recoup construction-associated costs through a transmission delivery charge when the construction is planned entirely by the utility without notice or directive from a federally regulated entity. The legislation only applies to electric utility companies that are under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Corporation Commission and serve more than 20,000 customers in the state, meaning the bill directly applies to Evergy. The bill passed the House 120-1 and the Senate 37-2.

House Bill 2114 renames the  Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight in honor of former Rep. Russ Jennings, who died in 2021.

Jennings advocated for juvenile justice reforms, including alternatives to detention and community-based response to juvenile offenses.  The bill passed the House 122-0 and the Senate 40-0.

“This is a fitting tribute to Russ’ dedication to public service and, in particular, our shared commitment to juvenile justice reform,” Kelly said in a news release “His deep expertise and empathy led to evidence-based programs being implemented to help Kansas kids get their lives back on track.”

Senate Bill 144  exempts broadcast satellite service and streaming service providers from the Video Competition Act. The bill passed the Senate 31-6 and the House 124-0.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttp://www.sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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