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Feedlot considers wind power

The Gage County Board of Supervisors are considering allowing a wind turbine to power a rural Beatrice feedlot and will likely make a decision in the next two weeks.

Lisa Wiegand, of Gage County Planning and Zoning, said the Ensz Feedlot requested to build a 100-foot tower on the farm to reduce electricity costs, while excess power will be sold to Nebraska Public Power District.

“Gage County has two types of regulations for wind energy,” Wiegand said. “We have a single wind energy system and then we also have commercial wind systems… The biggest thing here is this particular tower is going to be used on site. All electric will be used there and any extra generation that they have will be sold back to Nebraska Public Power and that’s how it will remain in system.”

Jim Ensz said the farm has two types of vents, natural and tunnel. Tunnel vents draw air from one end of the buildings to the other and use considerably more energy, he said.

“With the information that was available in 2000 when we built this setup, the performance was going to offset the electrical cost,” Ensz said. “That probably didn’t work out exactly the way we hoped it to be. The power requirements are about 20-times higher on the tunnel vent versus the natural vent. To offset those costs we’ve been looking at a lot of alternatives to try, whether it be wind or solar.”

Wiegand said the turbine was met with little opposition during a previous Planning and Zoning meeting, but the Homestead National Monument of America, located more than four miles away from the feedlot, did raise questions if the view from Homestead would be impacted.

“We sent out 36 letters to landowners twice,” Wiegand said. “As we looked at this particular turbine, we heard from six proponents for the project and no opposition, however we did hear from Homestead with concerns for the viewshed… The concerns of theirs were how it will affect the night view. With all due respect to the Homestead, we asked if there were any viewshed easements that the Homestead owns and they stated there were none.”

The County Board typically doesn’t vote on such items the same day as the public hearing and will likely take action at its Oct. 15 meeting.