BEATRICE – Wind turbine metering point and distance from other uses appeared to be top concerns raised during a Gage County Board public hearing on Wednesday evening.
The district recently received changes to the regulations for wind energy companies recommended by the district planning commission. In a two-year process that includes a moratorium on applications for wind power permits, the changes were requested by residents of northern Gage County, who oppose a potential wind farm in their area.
Kickback distance to non-participating property owners was a frequent topic during the almost two-hour hearing. Pickrell’s Kristine Boone said wind turbine setback should be measured against a property line, not a house.
“If someone owns a lot without a home, a wind turbine could be placed on the property line or just above the property line … a place a mile from a wind turbine.”
The county’s current planning recommendation is a one-mile setback from a residence. Representatives of a village in the county are of the opinion that the distance to the cities should be greater. Ross Trauernicht is the Chairman of the Pickrell Village Board.
“A mile is not enough. A mile limits our growth. After a mile our growth would be complete. No more housing, no developments, no more business. After a mile we would be done … after the windmills are done and gone.”
Testimony to the board of directors encouraged a two- or maybe three-mile blowback from villages to wind turbines … as well as blowbacks from national and state parks, recreational areas, and wildlife management areas. One person assisted a three mile long setback of churches.
Friends of the Homestead President Don Fernading urged the county to also protect the Homestead National Historical Park’s field of view from the placement of wind turbines.
“Homestead is to be preserved and a place where everyone can see what it must have been like to cross a wide and open prairie at the end of the 19th century. Turbines.”
Darrell Holle of Jansen owns property within sight of the Homestead National Historical Park.
“I could suggest that if that’s a problem, the electrical transmission lines and the paved road may also spoil the historical view of the park … and so do the electric water wells. At the same time, it could also be argued that windmills were part of the pioneering culture Homestead days. So whatever it’s worth, I felt it was worth considering. “
Larry Allder of Cortland, who wanted the original one-mile setback settlement now recommended by the planning commission, said he wanted a bigger setback from villages and parks.
“Personally, I’d love to see three miles, but with the one-mile setback, I think Gage County puts a priority here. I couldn’t find any other counties with setbacks for their state, state, or local parks. I called the. Game.” and Parks Commission and asked if our state recreation areas are considered parks. They are not. That leaves no protection for these state parks … I think they need to be protected too. I think the wording in this paragraph needs to be changed to add the state recreation areas and wildlife management areas to protect these areas and use them in the future. “
Gage County officials have also been asked to introduce decibel limits for wind turbines of 40 decibels during the day, 37 decibels at night, and a 20 decibel limit for low frequencies called infrasound. It has also been proposed to include provisions in the district ordinances to compensate for road damage caused by the construction and operation of wind energy projects.
Gage County’s regulators have given no indication of when the board will respond to the recommended changes to wind energy regulations.