Library filed under General from Nebraska
A proposed wind farm in Kilgore could provide the state with renewable energy resources, but it's causing quite a stir in the Sandhills.
In the service’s initial discussions with Bluestem, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service saw the proposed area as “relatively dry,” said Bob Harms, a fish and wildlife biologist. “At that time, we had less of a concern,” he said. Then he saw Semin’s eagle nest and many birds, including the sandhill cranes. “So we’re concerned,” he said.
NELIGH — North Dakota to Texas is what Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen calls the wind energy “sweet spot.”
“People don't want to live next to that. They want the green energy but they don't want to live next to it,” she said. Daugherty said she doesn’t oppose wind power generally, but there are just too many people in her area for a wind farm. Standing on her front porch affords a view of agricultural fields for miles. “And [the view] was what attracted me to this spot,” Daugherty said. “You saw my living room there, I've got windows that look to the west. My vision wasn't looking at wind turbines.”
The bill (LB824) exempts private wind energy developers from having to apply with the Nebraska Power Review Board, which regulates the state's publicly owned utility industry.
State Sen. Ken Schilz suggested during legislative floor debate last week that building more wind turbines on the rural landscape could help lighten the property tax load in Nebraska. As it turns out, what’s good for tax relief also could be good for the Ogallala senator.
Concerns ranging from excessive noise to the well-being of turkey vultures were presented to Gage officials during a special hearing on wind turbines last week. The county is evaluating its wind energy regulations following a proposal from Volkswind USA last fall. The proposed wind farm would be primarily in Lancaster County but occupy about 4,000 acres in Gage County. The request was put on hold as both counties addressed concerns regarding wind turbines.
In the last three years, electricity generated by wind in Nebraska has more than doubled. And with the Environmental Protection Agency requiring big cuts in future carbon emissions from power plants, even more wind power could be in the state’s future.
The NextEra Energy Resources team said it is still trying to determine whether 33,000 acres in Butler and Saunders counties are suitable for its Jubilee wind energy project.
A group fighting the development of a 110-turbine wind farm was organized April 14 with 40 members. Early this week, the Bohemian Alps Wind Watchers counted more than 100 area landowners and residents who hope they can halt the Jubilee Wind Farm Project proposed by NEXTera Energy, LLC, before it gets a foothold, said John Stanner, one of the organizers.
To further educate the audience, organizers brought in Randy Saathoff, a livestock farmer, who lives in Steele Flats, the NextEra wind turbine project in Johnson and Gage counties. Saathoff, who did not sign a contract, lives a half mile away from the closest one. Most of what Saathoff said to the audience painted wind turbines in a grim light. He said the power is shut off without warning, sometimes for three hours, and NextEra maintenance employees do not let property owners know in advance when they will be on their land. “They drove across the bean field and left trash everywhere. They come and go whenever they want on your property. ...They’ll tell you what they want you to hear to get you to sign,” he said.
“There was an environmental expert at the meeting. We work closely with fish and wildlife, and game and parks,” Sullivan said. Bostelman said he asked about the environmental impact concerning eagles and was told by one NextEra representative, the setback was three to four miles, but another one told him it was 500 feet.
Vavra said that landowners should be prepared for disagreements among themselves and in fact, they should invite critics of proposed projects “to make you stay honest.” He highlighted the tactics of some developers, who engage in “cherry picking” to sign up a few landowners in the effort to block competitors.
NEXTera Energy Resources’ director of development, Lisa Sullivan, took the board through a whirlwind presentation of the Jubilee Project, a proposed wind turbine farm that would occupy a 33,000 acre area, potentially stretching from the Bruno and Brainard areas east into Saunders County. About two-thirds of the area is in Butler County.
Nearly 100 people, mostly residents of the Cortland, Hallam and Martell areas, packed a wind forum Tuesday night that could have been called Wind Energy 101. ...The audience also heard from Edward Walsh, an auditory neurobiologist from the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha. “As a biologist, there is a biological basis for concern. In the case of wind turbines, it’s what you can’t hear that’s significant,” Walsh said, adding that most of the sounds produced by spinning wind turbines are in the low-frequency range.
The fate of a key application concerning proposed development of the Cottonwood wind farm in rural Webster County likely will be decided over the next month or so, a county official said Tuesday.
A proposed wind turbine project is causing controversy in Webster County. The project is aimed to begin in the next several months. Thursday night was an open house with project officials from NextEra Energy Resources to try to inform and alleviate some concerns.
“Looks like there's going to be about 12-14 turbines within a mile of our home and so we're very concerned about the health and safety of our family living that close to that many turbines and the effects that the noise would have on our property.”
A commercial wind farm proposed for south-central Nebraska would interfere with a National Weather Service radar station more than any other in the nation. ...For the most part, wind farms are a nuisance to forecasters, but this would be the first time in Tornado Alley that a wind farm would be built this close to weather a radar station.
Loup officials hoped the wind energy could eventually bring customers a cheaper rate. But after Tuesday’s vote, unless Bluestem comes back with a lower price, what seemed like a promising idea could be gone with the wind.