Library from Nebraska
A group of Gage County residents is one step closer to getting setbacks increased for commercial wind turbines after a proposal was approved by Gage County Planning and Zoning Thursday evening. The proposal, which would increase setback requirements from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 to one mile, will now be considered by the Gage County Board of Supervisors for final approval. Nonparticipating residents are those who do not have contracts in place with a wind company.
The Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend that the setback distance between wind towers and non-participating rural homes be increased from the current three-eighths of a mile, to one mile. The proposed amendment also calls for independent testing regarding sound levels produced by wind farms.
Permits for wind energy will not be accepted by Gage County after the Board of Supervisors approved a moratorium on turbine meetings during Wednesday’s meeting. The moratorium, initially proposed two weeks ago for a period of four months, was amended before approval this week and will now last for the next three months. ...A primary concern is increasing current setback requirements that stipulate turbines must be 3/8 miles from residences. The group is asking that figure to be increased to one mile.
The Denver judge said Fish and Wildlife’s order granting the permit didn’t review possible routes to avoid O’Fallon’s Bluff, despite saying in its final environmental impact statement that running electrical lines over it would have “a long-term, high-intensity indirect (visual, auditory and atmospheric) effect.” Thousands of wagons on the Oregon-California Trail crossed the bluff from 1843 to 1866, cutting deep dips that remain today. It parallels Interstate 80 to the south between Sutherland and Hershey.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez revoked a federal permit that would have allowed the Nebraska Public Power District to kill or severely disturb the endangered American burying beetle as a consequence of building its R-Line project.
On the agenda for the board's meeting is a moratorium that would prohibit "... all applications, installations and projects involving wind energy systems until such time that the Board has amended regulations in place to ensure the protection of the public health, safety and welfare ..." of Dakota County citizens. ...The subject of a moratorium arose earlier this year as the county amended its zoning ordinances pertaining to wind energy systems, board chairman Martin Hohenstein said.
According to the lawsuit, NPPD was trying to use Global Investment Partners' 2018 acquisition of the wind farms and other assets from NRG Energy, as well as NRG Energy's 2014 acquisition of the assets from their original owner, as the basis for the contract termination, claiming that they constituted a default under terms of the power purchase agreements.
Hanover held a public hearing on March 9 for proposed Local Law No. 1 of 2020 to regulate the construction, maintenance and placement of solar energy systems and equipment at the Hanover Town Hall. Both sides were heard — the solar company and their supporters, along with some residents of Hanover who are unhappy with the idea of solar coming into the town.
Gage County’s Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on possible wind farm rule changes, governing tower setback and noise limits. The commission voted 6-1 to move ahead with that step, hearing from a packed county board room during a public comment period, Tuesday night. Well over 100 people attended... in the county supervisors room, an adjoining room, the hallway outside and across the hall at the county clerk’s office.
"While we understand their property rights, there's also a point where it affects our property. We also have rights on our property,"she said. "If they are too close to our property lines it inhibits our ability to build on our property. We all have different concerns. Mine is not having a tower 1,000-1,500 feet from my home, not my property line. That's too close." She brought up concerns about noise.
Faced with the prospect of a wind farm south of North Platte, county officials are considering tougher requirements to decommission wind turbines, Lincoln County Zoning Administrator Judy Clark told the county commissioners Monday. Proposed revisions have been unanimously approved by the planning commission. One provision would require a wind farm developer to post financial assurance that the turbines will be removed when that time comes.
A pre-trial hearing concerning a civil lawsuit against Saline County and seven wind farm entities was held Jan. 15 at the Gage County courthouse in Beatrice.
Prairie Wind Watchers is the group spearheading the requested amendments to Gage County’s wind regulations. The group is focusing on two specific changes it would like to see made by the county. A primary concern is increasing current setback requirements that stipulate turbines must be 3/8 miles from residences. The group is asking that figure to be increased to one mile.
Wilcox, who has raised concerns before about wind tower farms in the county, said more needs to be done to address ice sling, suggesting the commissioners implement a fine to be assessed if towers where ice sling is occurring and landing on county roads. She said the safety of county residents is in question on county roadways when such conditions exist.
Madson, a member of a group called the Nebraska Coalition for Responsible Energy, said the coalition is concerned about negative health and property tax impacts of wind farms. He then asked board members to raise their hands if they had read the lease. No one did. Doug Nelson of Wayne said financially, wind turbines never pay for themselves.
By a unanimous vote Monday, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners rejected a plan for a wind power generation facility in the county. All five commissioners voted to deny a conditional-use permit for the project. The permit was sought by Hamilton County Wind, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bluestem Energy Solutions.
While officials debate if the regulations should be changed, the County Board is considering stalling permits until a decision is reached. The agenda for the board’s Wednesday morning meeting includes an item to suspend wind permits to allow for review or change of the wind regulations.
“First of all, we know that ⅜ mile is not a safe distance for a wind turbine to be placed from a home,” said Yvonne Mihulka-Poole, who lives west of Cortland. “A 500-600 foot wind turbine needs to be at least one mile from residences to provide enough protection for the people of Gage County.” The group is also asking officials to make changes to how decibel levels are calculated. ...“We have learned from other studies and other counties that some testing can be manipulated,” Mihulka-Poole said. “We need to clarify this in our Gage County regulations.”
Cherry County commissioners’ recent approval of a long-discussed wind farm west of Kilgore has opened a second front in legal struggles over wind-energy development in Nebraska’s largest county. Preserve the Sandhills LLC, which managed to briefly delay the project last summer, has appealed to Cherry County District Court to reverse a 3-0 County Board vote Oct. 29 granting a conditional use permit for the 19-turbine Kilgore project.
ROSE -- The first thing you notice on Dave Hutchinson's Sandhills ranch on a July day are the dragonflies -- so many dragonflies.