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County board approves wind farm, Koch road projects  

Credit:  By Chris Dunker/Daily Sun news editor Beatrice Daily Sun | beatricedailysun.com ~~

Two agreements related to county road maintenance and improvements were approved by the Gage County Board of Supervisors Wednesday.

The first, a road use and maintenance agreement with the Steele Flats Wind Project, was carried over from an April approval of the project, Gage County Attorney Roger Harris said, after the county “overlooked” signing the document.

“I reviewed it at that time and everything looked fine, talked to (Gage County Highway Superintendent Galen Engel), and when you went over that, you saw they put some neat things in there,” Harris said.

According to the agreement, NextEra Energy will provide the county with plans including turbine sites, access points and a road plan 60 days ahead of the beginning of the project.

“During this survey, the entire length of the roads shall be videotaped and if deemed necessary by the parties, photographs may also be taken,” the agreement states.

The county is required to provide information to NextEra regarding the structure of the roads, designate a representative to work with the company, review all project related plans in a timely manner and continue regular maintenance (grading, snow removal) during the duration of the project.

While the 12 wind turbines are under construction in Gage County, NextEra may widen intersections to ease truck navigation to the sites, also extending culverts and other features of the county roads.

After the project is completed – NextEra estimates the grid will go online in early 2014 – the company will compare pre-construction and post-construction video and photographs and make improvements as necessary, the agreement states.

Supervisor Terry Jurgens said the 5-6 miles being used by the company of county roads will see improvement by the end of the project.

“If anything, it will be an improvement to all these roads and not at the county’s expense, at their expense,” Jurgens said. “It’s a plus if you ask me.”

Supervisor Matt Bauman said the highway department has already begun inspecting the roads in the area and will continue working with NextEra officials during the project.

According to project manager Paul Dockery, the project will begin its construction phase in July when the first of 44 turbines in the 75 megawatt wind farm will be built in Gage and Jefferson County.

Each turbine is 426-feet tall and capable of producing 1.7 megawatts of electricity during ideal circumstances.

The county also approved an amendment to the memorandum of understanding it signed with Koch Industries regarding a project to move Southwest 89th Road approximately 400 feet to the west at the intersection with Hickory Road.

The amended agreement reflects an update in the total project cost of $830,062. The original estimated cost of the project was $500,000.

On June 10, the board awarded the project to TCW Construction, a Lincoln-based company, for $616,442, the lowest of the three bids received.

TCW plans to begin construction July 1 and finish September 2. The county will pay TCW for the work and Koch Nitrogen will reimburse the county for the cost of the project, a memorandum of understanding between the two parties states.

The additional project costs include $57,344 for Norris Public Power District to relocate utility lines and $156,276 to relocate Windstream Communications lines, additional fees to engineer Mainelli, Wagner & Associates and a temporary easement on a property.

In other business:

–The board approved the final restatement of the county health care plan, a requirement by the county’s insurance carrier every seven years. County Clerk Dawn Hill said the insurance carrier also asks entities to restate the health care plans if more than 10 amendments are made to the plan; the county has recently made 12 amendments.

–An agreement between the county and Region V Systems for emergency protective custody cases was approved unanimously.

–The board approved a contract with attorney Stephen Kraviec for child support enforcement.

–Bauman signed a resolution approving the county participating in a Federal Funds Purchase Agreement and the Federal Fund Purchase Program Supplemental Agreement.

–The board approved a special designated liquor license for the Gage County Fairgrounds and speedway for a beer garden during the Gage County Fair 5-2. Supervisors Dennis Byars and Kathy Setzer opposed the motion.

Source:  By Chris Dunker/Daily Sun news editor Beatrice Daily Sun | beatricedailysun.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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