LINCOLN – Several members of the Lancaster County Board have expressed support for strengthening wind-energy regulations beyond a current proposal.
More than 30 people spoke during the four-hour public hearing on proposed wind-energy regulations Tuesday, with most of them seeking greater restrictions than those in the proposal. But the board ultimately did not take action.
The proposed regulations address issues with noise generated by functioning wind turbines and the distance from individual wind turbines to nearby properties and homes.
A setback of 1,000 feet from homes and three times the height of a turbine as measured from the blade tip at its highest point for nonparticipating properties is included in the current proposal.
As for sound, Lancaster County is considering a limit of 50 decibels during the day and 42 at night. The Planning Commission had considered limits of 40 decibels during the day and 37 at night, which was recommended by planning staff and the city county Health Department.
Several county commissioners said they were concerned the Planning Commission’s recommendations don’t go far enough to protect landowners who aren’t planning to lease their land to wind-energy companies.
But wind-energy supporters said even the Planning Department’s proposed regulations could severely restrict development of turbines in the county.
A bid by Oregon-based Volkswind USA to build more than 50 wind turbines in southern Lancaster and northern Gage counties prompted the proposed regulations. An attorney representing the company has said the regulations could prevent the project from happening.
The project would generate $700,000 in property tax revenue. But Roma Amudson, the board’s chair, said the income shouldn’t be a major consideration for county officials.
“It really doesn’t move the needle that much,” Amudson said.
The board may vote on the proposed regulations Oct. 27.
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