Articles from Nebraska
Jefferson County is nearer to finalizing adjustments to laws governing wind farms. At a gathering of the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Committee held the night of Thursday, January 6, on the Jefferson County Courthouse, some adjustments to mentioned laws have been agreed upon. Others have been tabled till the subsequent assembly.
Most of those changes were proposed by board member Emily Haxby, who has spearheaded changes to the regulations this year, making them more restrictive. Some of her changes that were approved included extending the setback requirement for commercial wind turbines from two times the height of the turbine to one mile from the property line of a nonparticipating landowner and lowering an allowance that turbines can exceed the maximum decibel level for a limited amount of time from five to three decibels.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a federal judge's order blocking Nebraska Public Power District from canceling power purchase agreements with four wind farms in the state. The publicly owned utility had argued that Elkhorn Ridge Wind LLC, Laredo Ridge Wind LLC, Broken Bow Wind LLC and Crofton Bluffs Wind LLC had violated the agreements by transferring control of their parent company's ownership interests without their consent.
OPPD’s hoped-for solar farm near Yutan is headed to the Saunders County Board with a strike against it. On Monday evening, after two hours of public testimony, the Saunders County Planning Commission voted 5-1 against a conditional-use permit for the project. Commissioner Jake Mayer was the sole supportive vote. The County Board, which isn’t bound by the Planning Commission’s vote, is scheduled to take up the issue May 11.
According to the lawsuit, NPPD was trying to use Global Investment Partners' 2018 acquisition of the wind farms and other assets from NRG Energy, as well as NRG Energy's 2014 acquisition of the assets from their original owner, as the basis for the contract termination, claiming that they constituted a default under terms of the power purchase agreements.
The Planning Department recommended reducing the setback from a property that is not part of a project from 5 times the height of the turbines to 3½ times the height. The department did not recommend changing the noise levels, however, as the city-county Health Department has not had time to do any studies that would show evidence to warrant a change.
Brewer also introduced a bill that provides and changes zoning requirements for wind energy generation projects, a major issue in his district. “That simply establishes certain requirements that every county has to have when it comes to wind energy. ...Brewer added that it didn’t prevent wind farms, but it did force counties with no zoning to create zoning.
Legislative Bill 409, which also would set up a special Unicameral committee to study transmission-line issues, reflects a years-long Sandhills dispute over Nebraska Public Power District’s currently mothballed R-Project. If passed, the bill would forbid “a public power district, public irrigation district or public power and irrigation district” from starting or continuing construction on transmission lines at least 200 miles long through Jan. 1, 2023.
The extension gives more time for the county’s planning and zoning commission to discuss potential wind energy regulation changes. Last year, the Gage County Board approved increasing the setback for wind turbines from homes, to one mile, after considerable feedback from rural residents in northern Gage County.
Monolith Materials’ carbon black plant near Hallam has a capacity of 14,000 tons per year. As part of a planned expansion, the company will build an anhydrous ammonia plant to use hydrogen that’s produced as a byproduct of its manufacturing process.
I read in the Norfolk paper recently that there is a lot of “myth and misinformation” about wind energy. The article was forwarded to me by one of wind energy’s strongest lobbyists in Nebraska. He argued that only a poorly informed “vocal minority” opposes wind energy, and the vast majority of citizens support it. Clearly this man hasn’t spent a lot of time talking to people in my legislative district. Whenever someone directs the argument away from the numerous problems created by wind energy, to instead a discussion about the relative size and importance of the opposition, it’s easy to see where that train of thought is headed.
But County Board Chair Sean Flowerday said at the time that if the county didn't see any permits come forward in a year's time, he would revisit the regulations. That's exactly what the board intends to do, Flowerday said Tuesday.
A wind turbine manufacturer is investigating its turbines after a blade broke off in southeast Nebraska. A spokesperson for EDF Renewables says a turbine fault error occurred at turbine 89 of the Milligan 1 Wind Farm on Thursday morning.
The County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved extending the moratorium on permit applications for wind turbines that was initially passed in July. The board now wants the Planning and Zoning Commission to take a closer look at the regulations before again accepting permits.
County commissioners, the county itself and BSH Kilgore LLC filed answers Monday to a lawsuit by wind-farm opponents seeking to overturn an Oct. 29, 2019, County Board vote granting BSH a conditional use permit.
Northern Gage County residents won a long battle today, as the Gage County Board approved an amendment increasing the setback between wind turbines and non-participating rural homes, to one mile.
The amendment increases setback requirements from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 to one mile. Nonparticipating residents are those who do not have contracts in place with a wind company. The Gage County Planning and Zoning committee previously approved the resolution in a 6-1 vote in August, after a six hour meeting.
Kendra Monroe, of rural Cortland, said an online survey indicated residents support the setback change. The five-question survey included 555 respondents, who did not have to give their names. "Out of those 555 responses, there were 490 residents...or 88.3%...who voted in favor of the one-mile setback...and 65 residents, or 11.7%..who were okay with the current setback".
Setting clear zoning that allows communities to capture the full benefits of wind energy development without burdening residents is key to bring clean energy and new economic opportunities to rural America.
The final public hearing was held Wednesday evening for a highly-contested proposal to change Gage County’s wind regulations, effectively ending plans for a wind farm in the northern portion of the county. The proposed amendment would increase setback requirements for commercial wind turbines from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 of a mile to one mile.