Library from Nebraska
Kathryn D. Sullivan Ph.D., Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, sent this response to Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer after Senator Fischer contacted NOAA with concerns pertaining to NextEra's proposed Cottonwood wind energy facility which would site dozens of wind turbines within 2-7 miles of the NEXRAD weather radar in Blue Hill, Nebraska. Senator Fischer's constituents contacted her out of concern for their safety if the weather radar was impaired by the turbines. The letter sent by Dr. Sullivan is provided below and can be accessed by clicking the link on this page. Senator Fischer's letter is also available from this page.
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 new wind power analysis has found it would cost Nebraska utilities as much as $4 billion to upgrade the state’s electricity transmission system to support the export of wind-generated power to other states.
NextEra's Cottonwood wind project (113.6 MW) proposes to site all of its 52 turbines within 2 to 7 miles of the Blue Hill, Nebraska NEXRAD radar. This will be the closest of any operating turbines in the U.S. to weather stations in Tornado Alley. The National Weather Service meteorologist-in-charge at the Grand Island/Hastings Weather Forecast Office in Hastings, NE, agreed to sign this letter of intent addressing the times when operational curtailment of the turbines would be required in order to evaluate a storm within the range of the radar. The agreement is in effect for five years from the date it was signed (November 24, 2014). The agreement is entirely voluntary and non-binding on any party. It can be terminated at any time upon notice of just one party. The introduction of the agreement is provided below. The full agreement can be accessed by clicking the link(s) on this page.
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.
Many states have legislative involvement, i.e., guidelines and regulations, regarding the construction of wind turbines. Questions do need to be asked. There should be just as much discussion on the realities of wind farms, including the "what ifs," as there is and has been of oil pipelines.
Warning people when dangerous weather strikes is vital to save lives. The National Weather Service responsible for sending out those messages says a proposed wind farm project could cause confusion when reading the weather radar. A wind farm affects a forecast by having radar beams hit the spinning blades, bounce back and make it look like it's raining all the time.
Cindy Chapman, a Hallam area resident and one of the organizers of Stop Hallam Wind, said she's glad to hear the applications have been placed on hold. "It just gives us a little more time to gather the information we need to present to both planning commissions on why these (turbines) are a danger to people's health," she said.
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.
NextEra Energy Resources says construction of the Cottonwood Wind Project will start as soon as the company signs a long-term power purchase agreement with the Nebraska Public Power District. ...NextEra, headquartered in Juno Beach, Florida, would like to begin construction next spring and complete the project by the end of 2015.
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.
“No matter which way you look, you see them,” Dave Stunkel said, looking out his window. “And no matter which way the wind blows, I get the noise.” ... at times, he said, “it’s just unbearable — like three or four jets going over at the same time.” In the winter, they said, the pitch changes, climbs higher; less a whoosh than a whine.
“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.
Kallhoff said he was out in his yard working when he heard a loud noise come from the south. When he looked up, he saw pieces of a wind turbine blade falling to the ground from a wind tower located just over a mile from his house. It marks the second time in less than two weeks that there has been a structural failure on a wind turbine blade.