Supporters of wind energy in Northeast Nebraska might feel like they are going against the wind after action taken Monday in two counties.
The Pierce County board of commissioners delayed action on new wind energy regulations. Instead, commissioners extended an existing moratorium on receiving any wind farm applications that was scheduled to expire in December. The moratorium had been put in place in June.
In Stanton County, commissioners held a public hearing on the county’s new comprehensive plan that includes more than 10 pages on wind energy. The entire documents is 174 pages.
The new Stanton County regulations, which were last updated in 1998, had a provision added Monday that prohibits all wind farms, effective immediately.
LaLene Bates, Stanton County’s planning and zoning administrator, said a public hearing before Monday’s vote lasted nearly two and a half hours. The commissioners subsequently approved the updated regulations and the wind farm prohibition on a 3-0 vote.
In both counties, public hearings to consider wind energy have drawn much larger than usual attendance, with most of the testimony in opposition to wind energy.
Ahead of the Stanton County hearing, many residents received a mailing with no affiliation listed that encouraged them to attend Monday afternoon’s hearing and oppose the presence of wind farms. The mailing alleged that turbines lower property values, affect livestock, make too much noise, create flicker and impact roads when being built, among other things.
A message to TradeWinds, which reportedly had contacted land owners in Stanton County as a location for a possible wind farm, was not returned from Monday.
Heather McWhorter, the Pierce County planning and zoning administrator, said the commissioners in Pierce County are giving a lot of thought to the new wind regulations. They are considering some changes from what already has been proposed by the planning commission.
“They will not put it on the December agenda and won’t consider it again until January,” she said.
McWhorter said the moratorium that prohibits action on wind farm projects scheduled to expire Dec. 19 will now extend until June 19, 2018.