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Questions remain about wind farms

I am a relatively new citizen (about 1.5 years) of Nebraska and chose to live here for a variety of reasons, with the most important being the quality of life here and the independent nature of the citizens.

Most people here are not looking for a hand out, work hard each day and truly value the principles upon which our country was founded. I love the rural lifestyle and appreciate every sunset.

This letter is written with a great amount of thought and reflection. I would like for the State of Nebraska to look carefully at its resources and make decisions that would preserve and protect them in such a way to benefit all the citizens.

I was recently in a detailed discussion about the sudden push by private companies to put up windmills in areas around Steele City, Jansen, Diller, etc. and am concerned that things might be happening that have not been thought out.

Let me be clear that I am all about free enterprise and energy independence for our nation and am not trying to put the breaks on these things, but it is time to ask some serious questions. Two of Nebraska’s greatest resources, in this new world, are land and wind. This issue raises questions about the value and management of both.

Thoughts to Consider in Evaluation of this Issue:

– By their own admissions, the builders of these towers will be sending the energy out of state…No benefit there.

– The tall towers have serious quality of life concerns for those living nearby: decreased property values for large land areas around the towers (which stand over 400 ft. tall); decreased quality of life in that they obscure views, are continuously noisy, and have some proven negative impact on the physical health of people…the only benefit would be to the land owner paid for the construction.

Sadly, I am hearing some landowners ready to sign up, only because if they don’t sign then their neighbor will and either way their property values sink like a rock. So, they sign on just to get something vs. nothing.

– I have not found good information on how far reaching the property value decline extends…Do values drop only within 1 mile of the towers or is it much further than that? Do values drop just because you can see the windmill from your land/home?

This was true for cell phone towers where I lived previously and they are not nearly so intrusive.

– I have been unable to find any comprehensive plan (at either state or local level) showing where these towers are scheduled to be put up and how they would benefit citizens here.

– In Alaska they decided some time ago, with the oil pipeline, that: 1. the oil is a state resource to be harvested to benefit all state citizens (everyone is compensated, because everyone is impacted) ; 2. the oil companies pay a small premium to the state for every gallon pumped out of the ground; 3. these premiums are collected by the state and shared with the citizens (although this varies year to year, it is currently $3,000-4,000 annually per household). I cannot find any information leading me to believe that Nebraska has any such plan or has reasonably considered it.

1. Is it the responsibility of the State of Nebraska to safeguard its resources to benefit all the citizens?

2. Has anyone considered how significantly and fundamentally these towers will change the heartland of Nebraska? And, have we decided that this is acceptable?

3. How is liability determined when these towers could catch fire, spewing flaming debris, or be swept across the landscape in tornadoes? The builders are not the land owners, so liability is an issue.

4. What is the impact on wildlife? Most specifically, the large number of migratory geese? There is some uniqueness in this area’s abundance of migrating fowl.

5. What effect would the wind turbulance have on nearby farms when they conduct agricultural spraying? And, what is their liability if serious drift issues occur as a result of the towers’ disturbance?

6. How are “air space” rights defined and protected?

These towers are being targeted toward rural areas, but they are not remote areas. It is our responsibility to raise the hard questions. Not all the answers will be satisfactory, but, it seems that, currently we are letting things just happen and that is what will create problems down the line.

I will be attending upcoming meetings on this issue and I will be expecting answers to these questions and I am not alone. It would be wise for our elected officials to attend these meetings and be prepared with answers.

Joyce Kauffmann, Steele City