After several months of meetings and hearings, the Logan County Commissioners Tuesday have given the Niyol wind farm near Fleming the green light.
Meeting in their regularly scheduled business meeting Tuesday morning, the commissioners granted a conditional use permit to Niyol Wind, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., to build 89 wind turbines south and west of Fleming.
The commissioners added a number of conditions to the permit, including noise-reducing blades on any tower within 2,500 feet of an occupied structure, a decommissioning plan, noise monitoring and FAA-approved lighting.
Because some residents of the area had expressed fears of the wind towers catching fire, NextEra offered to contribute $80,000 to the Fleming Fire Department to upgrade the department’s equipment.
Commissioner Byron Pelton, in whose district the wind farm will be built, specifically asked if a setback of between 2,500 and 3,000 feet from any occupied structure would still allow the project to be built. Jennifer Herron, project manager for Niyol, said that requirement would cause up to one-third of the towers to be eliminated, rendering the project unviable.
The current setback for the project is 1,500 feet from any occupied structure unless the occupants approve less.
The commissioners had held a three-hour public hearing June 2 for the wind farm but tabled the issue then saying they wanted to study the documentation they received during that meeting.
The public hearing was held in the ballroom of the Sterling Elks Lodge to allow social distancing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly two-dozen people spoke during the meeting and two large binders of documentation were offered from both sides of the issue.
Opposition to the project has come from a group calling themselves Concerned Citizens for a Safe Logan County. Residents of the area cite a number of concerns, including setbacks from neighboring structures, noise, “shadow flicker,” and negative environmental impact. NextEra officials say they have addressed all of those concerns.
A decision on the special use permit already was delayed for a month when the Planning and Zoning Commission tabled the application at its April meeting and then recommended approval at its May meeting.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a permit for Nebraskalink Fiber of Lincoln, Neb., top make a total of 49 bores under county roads to install almost 60 miles of fiber optic cable. The project stretches the length of Logan County from northeast of Peetz southwesterly to exit the county southwest of Willard. The project is to be finished by July 30.
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