February 11, 2020

Lincoln County commissioners approve tighter regulations on decommissioning wind turbine blades

By Job Vigil | The North Platte Telegraph | www.nptelegraph.com

Lincoln County commissioners tightened up the wind energy zoning regulations to emphasize decommissioning of such projects that would protect the county and its citizens.

On Monday, the board voted to approve amendments that would require companies to provide funds to pay for removal of wind turbines. Prior to the vote, several members of the public spoke in favor of the resolution and praised the Lincoln County Planning Commission for its work on the regulations.

Terry Madson, who lives in Nuckolls County, said the Planning Commission did a “pretty good job,” but he raised a couple of concerns.

His first point involved requiring removal of the concrete foundation that is set 4 feet below the surface of the soil. Just before Madson offered his thoughts, Commissioner Walt Johnson had asked whether that was enough.

“Sen. (Bruce) Bostelman last year proposed state legislation to require complete removal,” Madson said. “It failed, mostly due to the wind lobby.”

He said Johnson’s concern was legitimate.

“Four foot, in my country anyway, corn roots go past 4 feet, they go at least 5, and alfalfa is deeper than that,” Madson said.

Madson spoke at Monday’s meeting because Nuckolls County has a proposed 120-turbine wind project in the works.

“Decommissioning is really a serious issue,” Madson said. “No one sees down the road very far, and so when wind developers come in, they want to limit their liability, as we all would if we were in their shoes.”

He spoke about ensuring who was responsible for decommissioning.

“It’s really not fair to the taxpayer or the landowner,” he said, to suffer the consequences of inadequate funds for decommissioning.

Another concern, Madson said, was with getting rid of the turbine blades.

Former state Sen. Tom Hansen also spoke about his approval of the Planning Commission’s work.

“I’ve followed the Planning Commission for several years now,” Hansen said. “My wife serves on the Planning Commission and I think they’re doing a real good job. They’re doing the right things with the decommissioning.”

He said it was the landowner’s right to decide whether to give permission for wind turbines on their property.

“It’s your land, you ought to be able to do what you want to do,” Hansen said. “But you also will have neighbors and you have neighbors who are going to put up with rigs that come in for repairs and maintenance.”

Hansen also mentioned the disposal of turbine blades.

“A Facebook post about an article where Wyoming had 870 of those blades that had gone bad,” Hansen said. “They had to cut them up into three lengths so trucks could haul them to a landfill. That’s going to be a problem.”

Johnson also asked how the wind energy companies would turn corners with the blades when getting them to the project site. Clark said that was not under the jurisdiction of the Planning Commission but was the wind energy company’s responsibility to figure out.

After some discussion about whether to increase the required removal of concrete underneath the turbines from 4 feet to its entirety, the commissioners voted to approve the amendments to regulations 8.07 and 8.08 as read.

Clark said the Planning Commission could address the concrete removal depth later if directed by the County Board.

She said 4 feet below the surface for concrete removal is standard across the state.

The commissioners also:

» Approved the reappointment of Frank Fleecs, Jon McNeel, Ron Roberts and Harry Haythorn to the Lincoln County Planning Board of Adjustment and approved the appointment of Brent Roggow as alternate to the Board of Adjustment.

» Approved the purchase of tailgates, spreaders and plows for two new trucks that were purchased by the County Roads Department.

» Approved changes in the language of the Lincoln County Security posted orders at the security checkpoint to clarify what are considered weapons that are not allowed into the courthouse.

» Approved the schematic drawings by TreanorHL for the Lincoln County Detention Center addition and remodeling.

» Approved a bid proposal form to be used to attain bids for removal and placement of fence for the South River Road reconstruction project.

» Rescinded the public hearing date of Feb. 24 for the one- and six-year road plan and set a new time and date of 10 a.m. March 9.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2020/02/11/lincoln-county-commissioners-approve-tighter-regulations-on-decommissioning-wind-turbine-blades/