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

By: - April 13, 2023 12:45 pm
Gov. Laura Kelly said in a speech Tuesday to members of the Kansas Farm Bureau she was dedicated to creation of a collaborative, voluntary strategy for securing the water supply for agricultural purposes without imposition of government mandates. Kansas has been mired in a prolonged drought. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

Gov. Laura Kelly announced the signing of four laws Thursday. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

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.

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.

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rachel Mipro has covered state government in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She and her fellow team of journalists were 2022 Goldsmith Prize Semi-Finalists for their work featuring the rise of the KKK in northern Louisiana, following racially-motivated shootings in 1960. With her move to the Midwest, Rachel is now turning her focus toward issues within Kansas public policies.