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County board to consider wind farm

The Gage County Board of Supervisors will consider a permit allowing 12 wind turbines to be constructed in the southwest region of the county during its meeting Wednesday.

The public hearing is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. for supporters and opponents of the project.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. with the Board of Equalization.

NextEra Energy Resources filed for a permit to Gage County in late January. The Florida-based wind energy developer hopes the 44-turbine Steele Flats Wind Project will see a completion date before the end of the year, with 32 turbines being built in Jefferson County and 12 in Gage County.

Jefferson County approved the permit last week.

The 426-foot tall turbines, manufactured by General Electric, are the “workhorses” of the industry, capable of generating 1.7 megawatts of electricity each on windy days.

During construction, NextEra estimates 150 construction workers will be on site and the wind farm will employ five full-time technicians to maintain the facility after completion, potentially based out of an office in either Odell or Diller.

Project Developer Paul Dockery of NextEra said the Nebraska Public Power District showed interest as a consumer as part of its goal to providing 10 percent of its electricity through renewable energy sources.

Over the 30-year life of the turbines, approximately $11 million in nameplate capacity tax and property taxes will be generated for Gage County. Dockery later said the county could expect an additional $71,000 in tax revenue annually.

The Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission approved the permit 6-0 on March 14, with Commissioner David Zimmerman abstaining from the vote after his motion to table the permit failed.

The board then approved the permit with the stipulation that NextEra consider the Homestead National Monument of America’s horizons with regards to its setbacks.

Other agenda items include:

–The board will discuss roads to be included in a road bond issue as well as discuss a possible date for road bond special election and company to be selected April 17.

–Rescind motion board approved on March 20 for bids for a handicap accessible entrance at the Gage County Sheriff’s Department.

–Discussion and approval for calls for bids on vehicles for the sheriff’s department to be opened April 17 at 9:45 a.m.

–Discussion of an economic development loan program.

–Approve Gage County Weed Superintendent Deborah Marshall-Brown as a responsible charge for federal aid projects.

–Discussion regarding an April 2013 bridge conference.

–The board will enter closed session to discuss contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police.