May 27, 2015

Local wind farm discussion continues

Marlenia Thornton |

The debate continues at the county level whether to allow wind energy company Volkswind to put up turbines between southern Lancaster and northern Gage counties.

The company believes this would be a positive step in the state, but others are not too keen of the proposal.

Their main worries are the proximity of the almost 450 ft tall wind turbines to their homes and the noise.

“Our concern is that they’re trying to place them quite close to our homes and we were worried about the sound that’s emitted by them,” Cindy Chapman said. She is a member of a coalition against Volkswind.

Current zoning laws say the turbines must at least 1000 ft away from the property line of any home not involved in the project. It also requires they not exceed noise level of 35 decibels.

Volkswind representatives say these regulations are too low for commercial turbines and not possible.

“There are no wind mills that have rating. That sound level is an equivalent to a noise that is like whisper,” director volkswind usa jeffrey wagner said.

The Lincoln–Lancaster County Planning Department developed a working group to help revise commercial wind energy project regulations, which includes members of the public from both counties affected.

The group has researched health impacts from the noise like sleep disturbances.

“We’re more concerned with people’s safety than the ability to place them here. There’s plenty of locations here in nebraska that are less populated which would be more appropriate to place them,” Chapman said.

“Health and safety is the number priority for wind energy. Health and safety is in fact fundamental for this type of energy,” Wagner said.

The working group has recently proposed a new noise level one that differs between day and night, which is slightly less strict than the current one to help with the issue of annoyance and possible sleep disturbance.

Nothing is finalized yet.

A final decision by the county commission is expected in August.

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