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Hallam residents learned late last week that Volkswind USA put all seven special permit applications filed with the Lancaster County Planning Commission on hold. This action comes amid concerns and opposition from property owners who will be most impacted by the proposed wind turbine project.
Volkswind USA, the company that wants to build a wind farm in southern Lancaster County and northern Gage County, withdrew its permit application for one wind turbine near Hallam and canceled a public meeting that had been planned for Wednesday night.
They told Jeffrey Wagner, president of Volkswind USA, the wind turbines would be ugly, noisy and could harm their health. “I think it’s going to negatively impact our property values .... It’s just not the view,” said Larry Chapman.
Lancaster County planner Sara Hartzell said the company has applied for eight special use permits because the parcels of land it plans to lease are not contiguous. Some zoning language also must be changed to accommodate the project. A public hearing before the Planning Commission is set for Oct. 29.
LINCOLN — A state energy board gave conditional approval Friday to a $140 million wind farm that would rise south of Blue Hill in south-central Nebraska.
“I don’t believe either we or anyone else will move forward (with new projects) immediately without those (federal) credits,” said Dean Mueller, division manager of sustainable energy and environmental stewardship at OPPD. At least one developer has shelved a project in Nebraska because it can’t find a buyer.
NPPD is buying the entire output. It will then turn around and sell 60 percent to the Omaha Public Power District and keep the rest for its customers. The move will bring NPPD to within 23 megawatts of its goal of having 10 percent of its electricity come from renewable resources by 2020.
TradeWind Energy Inc. of Lenexa, Kan., had hoped to begin construction on the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project by the end of the year in order to qualify for federal tax benefits. But the company was unable to secure a commitment from a large power company to buy electricity generated by the project. ...Costanza said the tax credit deadline could be extended by Congress, but he was not optimistic that will happen.
The proposed 99-megawatt wind farm has not yet found a buyer for its electricity, and no timeline for construction has been announced. Wagner said Volkswind is still deciding between turbine suppliers for the project. The wind farm was originally planned as 43 turbines and seven alternative sites ...but a state law regulating towers near airports helped shape the project into the current 45-tower plans.
Proponents of Nebraska wind energy on Wednesday heralded unprecedented growth that will more than double the state's wind generation capacity in the next two years. But they also learned at an annual conference here that the project slated to be the first to export wind power out of state won't begin construction this year as had been hoped.
These developers have been flooding NPPD with unsolicited proposals, hoping the state’s largest electric utility would commit to long-term purchase agreements before the federal production tax credit available for the projects expires Dec. 31. Proponents of the wind plan pointed to the income tax credit — $23 per megawatt-hour for developers of large-scale wind farms over the first 10 years of electricity production — as the main driver behind the need for immediate action.
A new wind energy tax incentive signed into law last week was touted as a way to lure a wind farm worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Nebraska, but that's no sure thing. The sponsors of the wind bill say the incentive has already drawn the interest of wind energy development companies, but there is no guarantee that the $300 million to $400 million wind farm will come here.
But John Boyd Jr., a New Jersey consultant who helps companies site data centers, told Midwest Energy News the demand for wind power was driven by marketing. He acknowledged he doesn't think wind power is the leading criteria for siting decisions. More important factors, he said, are tax incentives, real estate costs and the price of the electricity.
"In reflecting on the past 150 years, nothing changed the landscape like the homesteading movement did," Mark Engler said in a public hearing before the Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission. "In years to come, few events have the potential to impact or change the landscape like wind energy development will."
Nebraska's lack of state tax incentives for wind projects forces project developers to charge more for power, which allows projects in other states to dominate the market for exported power, said David Rich, of Nebraska Public Power District, which has been buying wind energy to meet its goals for providing power from renewable resources.
Employees at both manufacturing plants were notified of the decision today, but will continue working until existing contracts are completed. Once those orders are complete, temporary layoffs will begin.
Nebraska's gust of wind energy could be slowing to a breeze. The Nebraska Public Power District -- considered the leader in wind energy development in the state -- intends to build few, if any, wind farms over the next five years. Wind energy supporters view NPPD's decision -- outlined in a resolution -- as a moratorium.
A coalition of Nebraska environmental and farm groups called on the state's largest utility to develop more wind power to address future energy needs instead of relying on coal-fired power plants. ...Under state law, Becker said, Nebraska public utilities are required to utilize the "least-cost option" for generating electricity, and that option is coal.
The advocacy group contends that several species of birds, including golden eagles, whooping cranes and greater sage-grouse, will be endangered by "poorly planned and sited wind projects," according to Kelly Fuller, a conservancy spokeswoman. But Nebraska authorities involved with approving wind farms in the state have shown that they are already fully aware of the potential problem.
"Do we want to look at these windmills the rest of our lives and our children's lives?" "That can be seriously tying up your property for a long time," Vavra said. The most important missions are to protect landowners from unscrupulous developers and make sure that everyone understands that wind energy benefits come with issues.