Articles from Nebraska
A pre-trial hearing concerning a civil lawsuit against Saline County and seven wind farm entities was held Jan. 15 at the Gage County courthouse in Beatrice.
Prairie Wind Watchers is the group spearheading the requested amendments to Gage County’s wind regulations. The group is focusing on two specific changes it would like to see made by the county. A primary concern is increasing current setback requirements that stipulate turbines must be 3/8 miles from residences. The group is asking that figure to be increased to one mile.
By a unanimous vote Monday, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners rejected a plan for a wind power generation facility in the county. All five commissioners voted to deny a conditional-use permit for the project. The permit was sought by Hamilton County Wind, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bluestem Energy Solutions.
“First of all, we know that ⅜ mile is not a safe distance for a wind turbine to be placed from a home,” said Yvonne Mihulka-Poole, who lives west of Cortland. “A 500-600 foot wind turbine needs to be at least one mile from residences to provide enough protection for the people of Gage County.” The group is also asking officials to make changes to how decibel levels are calculated. ...“We have learned from other studies and other counties that some testing can be manipulated,” Mihulka-Poole said. “We need to clarify this in our Gage County regulations.”
Cherry County commissioners’ recent approval of a long-discussed wind farm west of Kilgore has opened a second front in legal struggles over wind-energy development in Nebraska’s largest county. Preserve the Sandhills LLC, which managed to briefly delay the project last summer, has appealed to Cherry County District Court to reverse a 3-0 County Board vote Oct. 29 granting a conditional use permit for the 19-turbine Kilgore project.
ROSE -- The first thing you notice on Dave Hutchinson's Sandhills ranch on a July day are the dragonflies -- so many dragonflies.
County planners voted unanimously Nov. 19 to recommend denying Bluestem Energy Solution’s request for a conditional use permit to build a four-tower wind energy project south of Interstate 80.
Gage County officials are considering a change to wind energy regulations, with a meeting to discuss the proposed changes scheduled for next month. Larry Allder, representing Prairie Wind Watchers, attended Wednesday’s meeting of the County Board of Supervisors and detailed what the group is hoping to see change.
The lawsuit is the second one filed over the project. In July, a Massachusetts woman who owns property near the proposed wind farm filed suit against the county and EDF Renewables over the granting of right of way for the company to run underground electrical cables on her land. Saline County residents also have alleged a number of improprieties in the extension of the conditional use permit, including open-meetings violations and conflicts of interest.
According to court documents, the defendants “have never submitted a valid application for a conditional use permit to construct and operate a wind energy project in Saline County.” Plaintiffs also allege the CUPs that were filed on behalf of the wind project are invalid, as development was supposed to be completed two years following the Board of Commissioners’ approval in 2016.
“We believe the wind regulations need to be updated,” he said. “When we first did this five years ago the (turbines) were 380 feet tall. Now they’re talking 500-600 feet turbines and our 3/8-setbacks are way too close.” In addition to the setback restrictions, Allder said the amendment also changes how decibel levels are calculated.
County planners tabled their review and pending recommendation on an application to build four commercial wind turbines south of Interstate 80 last week after hearing two hours of often emotional testimony from area neighbors who raised a number of concerns.
A multi-million dollar project that's been met with strong opposition from landowners, taxpayers and stakeholders in Cherry County for the past three years continues to fuel the fire.
The Cherry County Commissioners made a motion to table any action on the wind turbine proposal and will take it under advisement. The board will meet next week and set a date to take action on the project.
A six-month moratorium for project development on the Milligan One wind farm in Saline County was discussed during the Aug. 20 Saline County Commissioners board meeting.
The group, along with a local landowner, sued the county last month to prevent board members Martin DeNaeyer and Tanya Storer from voting on the application. ...But in vacating his initial temporary injunction, State District Court Judge Mark Kozisek rejected the notion that those familial connections constitute a conflict of interest as defined by state law.
The county’s repeated failure to adopt zoning regulations for wind energy causes concerned citizens to feel like they don’t have a voice. Ignored people quickly become angry people. They are forced to file lawsuits so they can finally be heard. LB 373 makes wind energy zoning mandatory. Creating new county zoning regulations is a very public process. It provides numerous opportunities for everyone to participate regardless of their position on the subject. No one can say their voice wasn’t heard.
Concerned residents of Saline County spoke during the July 9 commissioners meeting regarding conditional use permits and the project timeline of the Milligan One wind project. Since January, EDF Renewables has owned the wind farm project, with construction set to begin later this year.
A judge on Monday temporarily blocked two Cherry County Board members from voting on a planned wind energy project in the Sand Hills, siding with opponents who argued that those board members have a financial stake in the project’s outcome.
“All we’re looking for is that this matter be determined by people who don’t have a vested interest in the outcome,” said Jason Bruno, the Omaha attorney representing Preserve the Sandhills.