PANAMA – The debate of wind turbines in eastern Nebraska has extended to one of the states biggest counties.
Panama, NE., a town of just over 200 in rural Lancaster County, held a public meeting Wednesday night about a proposed number of wind farms. Chad Walvoord is a crop duster in the area and got a letter about possible turbines from the FAA. He and his wife Deanna started a Facebook group to alert the community.
“April 5, we made a post that showed the map and how we learned the information and what we’d done with it so far,” Walvoord said. “In less than 24 hours, it was shared over 200 times.”
Over 200 people attended, to ask questions and share opinions. One of those in attendance was Lancaster County Commissioner hopeful Travis Filing. Filing opposes turbines.
“These wind tubrines they’re trying to put in are 650’ tall,” Filing said. “Our state capitol is 362’ tall. So that’s two state capitols. You’re driving home on I-80, you hit that Milford exit, you’re looking for that state capitol, you’re looking for home, picture two of them.”
Dave Vavra is the chairman of the Saline County Wind Association and claims to be neutral on the subject. He did, however, give the audience advice on how to go about rejecting wind farms in the area. Tips included reaching out to county commissioners, controlling when workers can access your land, and having a fair lease.
“One gentleman said ‘hey if someone wants to pay me for my wind’ I’ll sign up tomorrow,” Vavra said. “He then called me back and said ‘Do you know how skewed this agreement is against the landowner?’”
Matthew Jones of NextEra energy was present on the company’s behalf. Many had concerns of problems with turbines and damage to wildlife. Jones claims many of thee problems came from different companies.
“It’s important to remember we’re talking about a totally different company,” Jones said. “You can go to a restaurant and say a restaurant undercooked my steak, I’m never going to a restaurant again, because all restaurants undercook steaks. That’s the analogy, but every restaurant is different and every wind company is different.”
He also took time to address concerns for wildlife.
“For Nebraska environmentally, there’s a requirement for us to do two years of study, we have people go out to determine where all the eagle nests are and all the species,” Jones said. “That gives us an idea of where we can put the project.”
A meeting with Otoe County Commissioners to discuss the issue further is planned for May 11.
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