Faced with the prospect of a wind farm south of North Platte, county officials are considering tougher requirements to decommission wind turbines, Lincoln County Zoning Administrator Judy Clark told the county commissioners Monday.
Proposed revisions have been unanimously approved by the planning commission. One provision would require a wind farm developer to post financial assurance that the turbines will be removed when that time comes.
A wind turbine project is under consideration in southern Lincoln County on some 15,000 acres of land owned by NCORPE (Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement) – a government agency.
The county commissioners have set a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 10 to hear comments about the proposed requirements.
Wind turbines are made of materials that have a predictable lifespan, and new technology can also make units obsolete faster than expected. Turbines often have a 20-year life span. Until recently, states such as Texas did not require developers to have a decommissioning plan.
Under the Lincoln County proposals, the developer would have to post financial assurance equivalent to 125% of a professional engineer’s estimate of the decommissioning costs. The cost estimate would be updated every three years.
Turbines would have to be decommissioned if they do not generate electricity for six continuous months, according to the proposal.
The county regulations would also prohibit shadow flicker from turbine blades from falling on neighboring dwellings that are occupied by people who don’t participate in the wind project.
The proposed regulations also require $10 million in liability insurance per occurrence, and a total of $40 million. There is also a $5,000 permit fee, as well as protections for county roads.
The windmills would be permitted as a conditional use of agricultural property. Under existing zoning regulations, the planning commission has the final authority to grant a conditional use permit, Clark told the commissioners.
The public hearing will be held in the commissioners’ meeting room on the east end of the Lincoln County courthouse.
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