By George Harvey, Staff
Selena Charleton works at the front desk of the municipal building in Greensburg, Kansas. If there are problems with the local power supply, she hears about them. I asked whether people in Greensburg ever complain about the sounds or sights of the wind turbines. “I have never heard anything negative on them,” she said, adding, “I have one close to my house and never noticed any sound.” How close? “About two blocks.”
Greensburg is not big. Though it is chartered as a city, the population is under 1000. It was hit by an EF5 tornado in 2007. Its 205 mph winds left 5% of its buildings severely damaged and all of the rest completely flattened. Fortunately, the warning came twenty minutes before the tornado, and the loss of life was kept to a minimum. People in Kansas like to be prepared for tornadoes.
All municipally owned buildings needed to be rebuilt from scratch. In the course of deciding how to deal with this, the city council passed a resolution that all city buildings had to pass LEED Platinum certification. And so LEED Platinum is standard today for Greensburg municipal buildings.
Sustainability became an issue for many businesses and people in Greensburg. In fact, the city has the greatest number of LEED certified buildings per capita of any city in the United States.
Power generation was hardly ignored. The city managed to get its own wind farm of ten wind turbines with a capacity of 1.25 MW each. The wind farm is about three miles past the city limits.
With experience gained with wind power, a constant resource on the prairie, businesses and organizations began to install their own. The local John Deere dealership installed two turbines of its own. Best Western installed three. The schools have one. The Arts Center has three. The Kiowa Kansas Memorial Hospital has a large turbine standing on a little green between a parking lot and the hospital building.
Stacy Barnes, the Convention and Tourism Director, says there are fourteen or fifteen wind turbines within the city limits. Since the city is only 1.75 square miles, we might surmise that a lot of people in Greensburg live “about two blocks” from a wind turbine.
The people of this little city, once destroyed by wind, now say proudly, “Greensburg is 100% renewable, 100% of the time. All of the electricity used in the City of Greensburg is wind energy.”
The city web page for Greensburg, Kansas is www.greensburgks.org.