BEATRICE – It’s a controversial project…one that ultimately will be decided by the Gage County Board, if a permit application is filed.
A proposed wind farm in northern Gage County could be constructed, but first, county officials will deal with whether or not the wind tower setback requirement from non-participating rural homeowners will be increased, to one mile.
The City of Beatrice hasn’t taken a formal position on the prospect of a wind farm between Pickrell and Cortland. Mayor Stan Wirth says the financial benefits….and aesthetics of a wind farm are at odds…at a time when there is concern about property taxes, and the Beatrice Six judgment being paid out.
“If you look at it purely from an economic standpoint, this will generate in the neighborhood of $750,000 a year in property taxes. That’s a lot of money. If you look at it over the life of that project, it comes up to a little over 22-and-a-half million dollars. Those are estimates that I think are coming from NextEra, but they also used some of the statistics from the Gage County Assessor’s Office. From an aesthetics point of view, the opponents of it are not in favor of it….and I get that, also. For the next thirty years, there’s going to be wind towers. So, is there going to be a balancing act, is the one-mile setback going to kill the project….I don’t know. I think that there’s a lot of smart people out there, that will figure that out”.
After a recent five-hour public hearing, the Gage County Planning Commission recommended the setback be increased to one mile. That issue now goes to the county board for a second public hearing, and final action.
Wirth says the city supports green energy, and would consider purchasing power through the wind farm, if it is ever constructed. The city already has wind energy capacity in its energy mix.
NextEra Energy Resources…the developer…operates the Steele Flats Wind Energy Project in southern parts of Jefferson and Gage Counties.
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