February 12, 2018
Nebraska, Opinions

Addressing wind energy in Nebraska

By Sen. Tom Brewer | February 11, 2018 | rapidcityjournal.com

This week I introduced my priority bill, LB 1054. It’s a bill that addresses wind energy in Nebraska. It’s been a long, hard road coming to this place. In the past 13 months, since I was sworn-in a Nebraska State Senator, I have been fighting to get a bill passed that addresses this issue. Second only to high property taxes, there is nothing more important to the people of the 43rd Legislative District than wind energy.

This story starts two years ago when LB 824 passed in 2016. Former Senator Ken Schilz was the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee in 2016. He made LB 824 a committee priority bill and led the effort that got this bill passed. He is now a lobbyist for wind energy. This bill took away the people’s voice in wind energy projects. They oppose my bill and will definitely lead a filibuster against it because my bill reverses what LB 824 did for big wind.

I welcome the chance to debate LB 1054 on the floor because this bill is about fairness. This bill is about giving citizens that are affected by industrial wind energy projects a voice that was taken away from them two years ago. The pro-wind energy bill that passed two years ago exempted wind energy from much of the Power Review Board (PRB) process. Nebraska is the only State that is 100% “public power.” Public utilities in our State are subject to numerous layers of oversight and regulation that gives members of the public multiple opportunities to be heard. Add to this the fact the board members in charge of our public utilities are elected.

PRIVATE generators of electricity on the other hand, such as wind energy, managed to get themselves exempted from this sort of oversight. My bill LB 1054 simply restores this right. It puts wind energy back into the only process Nebraska has; the Power Review Board. When they testified in opposition to this “burdensome, unnecessary regulation” I was forced to wonder; “How did they manage to build all the wind energy in Nebraska before 2016 when they had to go through the PRB process?”

Don’t be fooled. You’ll hear supporters of big wind say “local control” provides the people a voice. Ask yourself how that is possible when the wind energy business model is to first come into a county and sign-up as many elected officials as they can as investors / paid land-owners. How can a county board or a planning and zoning commission member be objective and unbiased and look out for the best interests of everyone if they have a conflict of interest?

The people need to get their voice back. If an industrial wind energy project really is the good neighbor they claim to be, they should have no problem listening to the people around their project testify in a public hearing. What are they afraid of?

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2018/02/12/addressing-wind-energy-in-nebraska/