March 20, 2020
Letters, Nebraska

Big wind: too much of a good thing?

Washington County Enterprise and Pilot Tribune | March 19, 2020 |

Wind and solar power are great things and when properly integrated into the fabric of things. In Burt County, we have the potential to go from a few small turbines scattered around to being completely saturated by massive turbines that will dominate our county for decades.

Citizens United recently polled county residents and found Burt County residents to be overwhelmingly against such a development. However, this fact is not enough to protect us from something the minority desires for the rest of us. The wind proponents are now trying to use the Burt County government against the people so they can get their way and make money at our expense. Let’s not mince words here.

Now there is nothing wrong with making money with renewable energy, but when it is so big and there are so many that it dominates the environment for miles around, then it requires permission and the people have clearly said no. Lacking public support, these developers use slick marketing techniques and brush off concerns so that they can convince county government to ‘grease the skids’ for the big money out of state entity who is hovering above. This technique of locals acting as the face of an otherwise ugly corporate development that will damage our community reminds me of the actions of a Judas Goat in the packing industry.

Pushing standards that the industry set for itself, downplaying real dangers that exist from harmonics and vibration while spotlighting the limited revenue that would be generated in the community (and in their pockets), the wind farm proponents are trying to push bad wind zoning through the Board of Supervisors so they can report back to the real project developer that ‘things are ready for them’.

Clearly, we have learned a lot about these large turbines since they first started going up and the responsible thing to do is to wait until more information becomes available to make good decisions. In the meantime, we need 1 mile setbacks from these monsters because the health and safety of Burt County taxpayers comes first, not some out of state corporate balance sheet. I have suggested to County Supervisors they should visit a wind farm (with similar huge towers and blades) and stand 1500 feet away and imagine sleeping at that spot. (setback is to home, not property line). Some have already made such visits, most have not. Finally, I believe Supervisors and Zoning officials who stand behind zoning laws that cause harm or damage should be held personally liable for their decision to allow a project that the majority does not want. If they are that sure of themselves, then it should not be an issue to be personally responsible for what transpires down the road.

In the meantime, I think our County government has bigger fish to fry in making preparations to deal with the approaching virus to ensure people are kept informed and local government remains effective.

Robert Byrnes

Lyons, NE

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