COLUMBUS – A wind farm project has support from the county.
Last month, the Platte County Board of Supervisors tabled a decision on whether to adopt a resolution of support and county road agreement with Bluestem Energy Solutions, which is installing four wind turbines south of Creston.
On Tuesday, the board approved the resolution and road agreement that makes Bluestem responsible for any damage to county roads sustained during the construction process or if the roads have to be accessed for repairs to the wind farm in the future.
The Omaha-based company finalized an agreement with Loup Public Power District to provide wind power to the district. Loup is a 100 percent purchaser from Nebraska Public Power District, but will buy a small portion of its peak electricity demand from Bluestem.
The project already is underway near 205th Avenue and Bluestem didn’t need support from the county to move forward, but the support does help small developers receive sale tax exemptions on new projects.
New energy-generation projects, like wind and solar, are eligible some sales tax exemptions through the Community-Based Energy Development Act if the project has received a resolution of support from the county, said Neal Suess, CEO and president of Loup and a member of the Nebraska Power Association board.
Suess said the resolution isn’t necessary to get the tax exemption, it just makes the process easier.
Because heavy equipment is used during the construction process, Bluestem will be held responsible for any damage to county roads, according to the road agreement. The company will provide the county with an inventory on the condition of the roads before and after construction.
The agreement is extended through the entire use of the wind farm operation. If equipment has to be driven on county roads to repair a turbine and the road is damaged, Bluestem will be held responsible.
The project is expected to be finished in the fall at a cost of $10-12 million.
The board voted separately for the resolution and county road agreement. Both motions passed 6-1, with Supervisor Tom Martens voting against each, in part, because he felt the company should have approached the county earlier about the project.
In other business, the board approved allowing up to $3,000 to be spent on a dehumidifier, two ceiling fans and installation in the county treasurer’s office in the courthouse.
The office has experienced humidity and odor problems for some time, and Theresa Gabriel, Platte County treasurer, said those issues continue. Humidity levels in the office during the summer can measure between 70 and 80 percent.
Use of a dehumidifier in the office was suggested in an air quality assessment completed last fall. The assessment showed the air quality is safe, but it recommended thorough cleaning to eliminate dust and a review of the heating and cooling components in the courthouse to make sure the equipment is functioning properly.
Dehumidifiers have been used in the treasurer’s office before, but it did not solve the problems. The Santa Fe Classic Dehumidifier, which costs $1,626, is higher-quality than the dehumidifiers previously used.
The board voted 6-1 to approve the request, with Supervisor Ron Pfeifer providing the lone vote against the motion.
Also gaining approval was the purchase of a $6,797 copier from OfficeNet for the second floor of the courthouse.
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