Library from Nebraska
Presently wind energy developers are free to build wind farms in Nebraska after going through the Power Review Board process. The push for wind tax credits is powered by greed and fueled by money from special interest lobbyists (the lobbyist cartoon under the wind-tax editorial was very apt). Developers want the taxpayers, through tax credits, to pay for 25 percent of the estimated $2.5 million cost of each wind turbine, thus guaranteeing the investors an immediate profit.
Jan BBostelman, who described her 35 years of experience as an engineer in the power industry, said the safety regulations need to be based on the worst case scenarios of turbine failures. Dan Schmid of Dwight spoke in support of the regulations. He said European countries are much more experienced in wind development and they have larger setback distances. Germany, for example, is creating setbacks of 1,000 meters, about double the distance set in the local regulations.
By a 3-1 margin, township voters approved limitations on the development of turbines within the township that surrounds David City on the north, east and south sides. ...Residents also voted 33-11 to require 1,640-foot setbacks between the turbines and the nearest township road and any nearby property whose owner is not part of the development. The regulation also placed limits on the noise created by turbines during overnight hours.
A home should be an owner’s castle and free from intruders, especially when that unwanted guest comes as a result of self-serving government interests. Crony capitalism in the Nebraska Legislature is threatening the health, security, and property rights of many Nebraskans. Policymakers must stop prioritizing these out-of-state wind developers at the expense of taxpayers and property owners.
Scott Holmes, manager of the environmental health division of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, cited research showing that the nature of wind turbine noise makes it more annoying than noise from aircraft, trains or traffic on roads. The rotation of the big blades produces a swoosh, thump and silence. The uneven, pulsating sounds repeatedly capture attention and are difficult to ignore, one researcher wrote. The circumstances call for the Lancaster County Board to give considerable weight to the pleas of rural homeowners as it enacts regulations on wind turbines.
Opponents argued that the state shouldn't subsidize wind energy and contended the bill would cut into state revenue by allowing wind farms to sell their tax credits to other profit-making businesses to generate cash. Some criticized the turbines as an eyesore in rural areas and complain about the whooshing and thumping noises made by the spinning blades.
On Wednesday night, the nine members of the Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed rules on a 5-4 vote, after rolling back sound limits and doing away with a daily limit on the amount of time flickering shadows cast by turbine blades can pass over neighboring houses. ...The move disappointed Hallam and Cortland area property owners. They had wanted the noise limits to remain at 40 decibels in the day and 37 at night, numbers that were recommended by the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department.
The noise turbines make cannot be compared to other sounds, like a stream or the hum of a refrigerator, which also are around 40 decibels. “It’s more annoying to people than other sounds at the same levels,” he said. It’s unique. Multiple turbines, even if in sync, combine to make a modulating pulsing swoosh and thump, plus a whirring sound, a hum from the transformer substation and infrasound below human hearing.
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.
Accepting these mitigation measures without fully understanding their effectiveness could place the lives and property of Nebraskans at risk.
The proposed regulations address noise and health issues from wind turbines, as well as setback requirements from homes and property, lighting and decommissioning of towers. Stephen Henrichsen, the department's development review manager, said comments will be reviewed before final regulations are presented to the Planning Commission for a public hearing in August. No date has been set.
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.
Lancaster County is expected to adopt new wind farm regulations restrictive enough they may prevent future developments, and Gage County will likely follow suit. The County Board of Supervisors discussed regulations at its regular meeting this week. The proposed changes are the result of joint meetings with Lancaster County officials first held in March.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Omaha office has opened an investigation into the report of a worker's death, Wednesday, May 27th. The 40-year-old temporary worker was working for Wanzek Construction, Inc., which is constructing the Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center for Invenergy near Elgin, Nebraska.
"Our concern is that they're trying to place them quite close to our homes and we were worried about the sound that's emitted by them," Cindy Chapman said. She is a member of a coalition against Volkswind. Current zoning laws say the turbines must at least 1000 ft away from the property line of any home not involved in the project. It also requires they not exceed noise level of 35 decibels.
Proposed noise rules being drafted to regulate commercial wind turbines in Lancaster County are so restrictive they would effectively prevent wind projects being developed here, according to a Portland, Oregon-based company that wants to develop a 50-turbine farm in Lancaster and Gage counties.
But Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, who led the opposition to the bill, said Nebraska doesn’t need additional energy and argued that wind farm development would harm the state’s public power system.
The Legislature appeared poised Monday to place a $75 million limit on enhanced state tax credits designed to promote development of new wind energy projects in Nebraska, but the ultimate fate of the bill remained in doubt.
But opponents questioned whether the state would see a direct benefit from such projects. Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus criticized the proposed use of transferable tax credits for wind farms. The transferable credits could be sold other companies at a discount, allowing the wind company to generate cash while the purchasing company lowers its tax liability. Schumacher submitted an amendment that would allow companies to sell their tax credits at only a maximum 3 percent discount.
The Platte County Board of Supervisors has yet to give its support to a wind farm project that is already underway south of Creston. On Tuesday, the board tabled a resolution of support and county road agreement with Bluestem Energy Solutions.