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Dakota County tables action on wind farm moratorium  

Credit:  Nick Hytrek | Sioux City Journal | May 4, 2020 | siouxcityjournal.com ~~

DAKOTA CITY – Dakota County leaders have decided more study and public input is needed before voting on a moratorium on wind farm developments.

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted 4-0 to table a resolution that would have prohibited wind energy developers from building in the county. Commissioner Tony Gomez was absent.

Commissioners agreed that because of restrictions in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the ability for county citizens to provide input has been limited. The Dakota County Courthouse is currently closed to the public, except by appointment, and people also are choosing to stay home in order to limit their potential exposure to COVID-19.

“In light of the current situation, we didn’t think it was prudent to make a decision without more public input and more research,” commissioner Janet Gill said.

The subject of a moratorium arose earlier this year while the county updated its zoning ordinances governing wind energy systems. The resolution considered Monday said that the board had “deemed it necessary to impose a moratorium” after considering public information provided during public hearings on the zoning amendments. County officials have said they have not been approached by wind energy developers about building a wind farm in Dakota County.

Gill said the board recognized on Monday that visits to wind farms like the Rattlesnake Creek project in neighboring Dixon County and more discussions with other counties that have wind farms would be beneficial before making a decision.

“I think everybody’s positive about clean energy, but we definitely want to make sure our residents are safe. We need to do some more research. We don’t have all the facts we need,” Gill said.

When those visits and public meetings might take place depends on when people now taking virus-related precautions feel more comfortable about moving around and attending meetings.

The board’s decision was applauded by Josh Moenning, director of New Power Nebraska, a renewable energy development organization that promotes and develops wind energy projects. The Norfolk, Nebraska, mayor, Moenning participated in the meeting via teleconference.

“I think it’s the right call,” he said in a statement emailed to the Journal. “This decision requires a fair, full hearing in order for public officials to have the benefit of all perspectives. There are several examples of Nebraska counties today realizing the significant economic benefits of new business investment in clean energy generation.”

Dakota County Clerk Joan Spencer said three county residents addressed the board Monday on the moratorium. Two spoke in favor of it, and the third was neutral, Spencer said.

Source:  Nick Hytrek | Sioux City Journal | May 4, 2020 | siouxcityjournal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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