LEXINGTON — The proposed wind farm in Dawson County is in the, “initial stages of assessing” to see if the area is compatible with the project, while the Dawson County Commissioners approved a one year moratorium on wind farm applications.
“We are in the initial stages of assessing whether this community is compatible for a renewable energy project. This includes evaluating existing transmission infrastructure, landowner and county officials’ interest, as well as conducting environmental surveys,” said Sara Cassidy, spokesperson for NextEra Energy Resources.
“If our assessments are favorable, the project would be subject to the appropriate approval process,” Cassidy said, “Renewable energy projects, like the proposed wind site are attractive to local communities, as they provide numerous economic benefits, including good jobs and the potential for millions of dollars in additional tax revenue, which can be used to enhance schools, roads and essential services.”
Landowners around the Sumner area recently received a wind farm and easement agreement from NextEra Energy Resources of Juno Beach, Fla., regarding a “Canaday Wind Energy Center” that would be located in the county.
Many were in attendance at the Dawson County Commissioners meeting in the former county courtroom on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to speak in opposition to the proposed wind farm.
During the public comment period, Melissa McTygue, a Sumner area resident, said she was a concerned about the project and asked those in attendance who felt the same to stand up, which lead to most of the gallery standing.
Cindy Burman, another Sumner area resident, said the people who live in the area will have to face the consequences of the wind turbines being installed and the price to decommission the turbines could fall on the county in the event of business bankruptcy.
Another resident presented video and pictures of a resident of Blue Hill who lives near wind turbines and documented the effect they had on their home, including “constant vibrations”, noise, light, etc.
Patrick Martin, a Sumner area resident, asked the commissioners if they were invited on a tour of a wind farm, to ask them to pay attention to the time of day the tour would be conducted. He said there are ways to make the turbines seem quieter and less intrusive than they might be otherwise.
Other residents asked the commissioners to consider their zoning standards and cautioned against considering a wind farm a true part of agriculture as they felt that was generous with the definition.
Matt McTygue appeared before the commissioners and asked them to consider a moratorium on hearing wind farm applications.
McTygue said the proposed wind turbine project has caused much controversy in the Sumner area. By his estimation, the wind farm would start southeast of Sumner and extend roughly 16 miles east, running around six miles north to south, reaching into Buffalo County.
The moratorium would allow for the commissioners to look at their zoning standards and regulations and make any changes to deal with wind energy before accepting, granting or recommending a conditional use permit for the construction of wind turbines, McTygue said.
“If you drop the ball on this, it could cost the taxpayers of the county,” said McTygue.
He noted that six other counties had adopted moratoriums on wind turbine acclimations, with Gage County being one of the first.
“I implore you to consider this resolution,” said McTygue.
After the public hearing was closed, Deputy County Attorney Katherine Kühn cautioned the commissioners that approving a moratorium could open up the county to liability and the company could seek an injunction to have it ended.
Chairman P.J. Jacobson said that the moratorium allows the county time to review their regulations and there was a past precedent with the other counties.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve a resolution that stated in part, “that a one year moratorium on accepting any wind farm applications is hereby invoked and approved. This moratorium will be extended if necessary.”
The result of the vote was met with applause from those in attendance.