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Board discusses potential fees for wind, solar

The Burt County Board of Supervisors met Friday and had a long discussion about potential fees for wind and solar installations in the county during their regular board meeting.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” Chairman David Schold said. “The zoning board will get together for a meeting and do research and then give us some of their suggestions.”

There are no meetings set up for public hearing.

The proposed fees for commercial wind and solar is $10,000 for a conditional use permit and $1,000 per unit they want to install,” Josie Oliver, interim Emergency Manager and Planning, Zoning and Floodplain Administrator, said. “For private wind and solar it would be $350 for a conditional use permit, another $350 to install it. If they have a switch on the unit to send unused energy to the power company, then the conditional use permit would be $700.”

Schold said once the zoning board gives the board the recommendation, the board will decide the amount.

Board member Paul Richards suggested a $10,000 initial fee for commercial projects, then as they do the turbines inside the conditional use permit it should cost $1,000 a tower.

“If these get done, we’re going to have to live with the complaints of people on it from here on out if it ever gets born,” Richards said.

Schold said you have to look at it both ways.

“It might be a hate for some people, but schools or towns might feel different,” Schold said. “It’s both sides of people who are going to live with it.”

Oliver thought the fees were reasonable.

“I don’t think the $10,000 is out of line if they’re not concerned with how much they’re spending,” she said. “If we have to see them, we might as well get something out of it.”

Board member Carl Pearson said it was important to have the fees set ahead of time.

“We’re going to have to go through a lot of work and go out and do some checking,” he said. “If they want to come in with 20 towers but we decide they’re not to have any, we will still have the expenses, public hearings and whatever the Department of Roads has to go through to figure out the contract.”

Schold told the board about suggestions from a trip to Antelope County with Bird Swanson to look at wind farms.

“We drove around with two guys that were part of the wind farm. They said whatever you do, when you’re starting this, make sure you tell them you want the lights that shut off and turn on when the planes are within three miles of it,” he said. “(The guys in Antelope) said that’s another million dollars but it’s a drop in the bucket when you were talking about a big project like this. They told us people don’t complain as much when the lights are off.”

Swanson said they also said if anyone wants to take a tour they would show them.

The board asked Oliver to research what other counties are doing on solar fees.

“No one in Nebraska had anything for solar, but I could look at Iowa or Missouri,” Oliver said.