Library from Nebraska
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.
County planners voted unanimously Nov. 19 to recommend denying Bluestem Energy Solution’s request for a conditional use permit to build a four-tower wind energy project south of Interstate 80.
Gage County officials are considering a change to wind energy regulations, with a meeting to discuss the proposed changes scheduled for next month. Larry Allder, representing Prairie Wind Watchers, attended Wednesday’s meeting of the County Board of Supervisors and detailed what the group is hoping to see change.
The lawsuit is the second one filed over the project. In July, a Massachusetts woman who owns property near the proposed wind farm filed suit against the county and EDF Renewables over the granting of right of way for the company to run underground electrical cables on her land. Saline County residents also have alleged a number of improprieties in the extension of the conditional use permit, including open-meetings violations and conflicts of interest.
According to court documents, the defendants “have never submitted a valid application for a conditional use permit to construct and operate a wind energy project in Saline County.” Plaintiffs also allege the CUPs that were filed on behalf of the wind project are invalid, as development was supposed to be completed two years following the Board of Commissioners’ approval in 2016.
At their regular board meeting in Curtis Monday, N-CORPE hosted Invenergy representatives to hear the company's proposal for placing renewable energy services on their Lincoln County property.
“We believe the wind regulations need to be updated,” he said. “When we first did this five years ago the (turbines) were 380 feet tall. Now they’re talking 500-600 feet turbines and our 3/8-setbacks are way too close.” In addition to the setback restrictions, Allder said the amendment also changes how decibel levels are calculated.
County planners tabled their review and pending recommendation on an application to build four commercial wind turbines south of Interstate 80 last week after hearing two hours of often emotional testimony from area neighbors who raised a number of concerns.
A multi-million dollar project that's been met with strong opposition from landowners, taxpayers and stakeholders in Cherry County for the past three years continues to fuel the fire.
The Cherry County Commissioners made a motion to table any action on the wind turbine proposal and will take it under advisement. The board will meet next week and set a date to take action on the project.
A six-month moratorium for project development on the Milligan One wind farm in Saline County was discussed during the Aug. 20 Saline County Commissioners board meeting.
The group, along with a local landowner, sued the county last month to prevent board members Martin DeNaeyer and Tanya Storer from voting on the application. ...But in vacating his initial temporary injunction, State District Court Judge Mark Kozisek rejected the notion that those familial connections constitute a conflict of interest as defined by state law.