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Reasonable wind regulations should be goal

August 18, 2018 GMT

Madison County officials — including members of the county board and the joint planning commission — have been prudent in taking their time before moving ahead with possible changes to the county’s regulations govering wind energy.

In April, the county board approved a six-month moratorium on accepting wind farm applications from interested parties to allow time to study existing zoning regulations pertaining to wind turbines.

Since then, there have been several opportunities for discussion at public meetings and a tour of an existing wind farm was taken by several county representatives.

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The plan now is for a public hearing on proposed regulations to be set for September with a goal of having regulations in place either yet that month or in October.

Among the matters being considered most heavily are how far setbacks should be governing the location of the turbines from homes and properties with non-participating owners.

In Pierce County, after considerable discussion, the setback has been established at 2,700 feet. In Antelope County, where several wind farm currently operate, the setback is 2,400 feet. In Stanton County, in contrast, wind farms aren’t welcome at all, so a setback figure is irrelevant.

As of this writing, we don’t know what the setback proposal will be in Madison County or what other possible zoning regulations might be.

Other topics could include turbine height, liability issues and removal plans for when a turbine is no longer in use. Those are all important topics.

Our desire is that Madison County be a place where reasonable restrictions are adopted that provide a level of reassurance and protection for those who aren’t big fans — pardon the pun — of the turbines in the countryside. Yet we want Madison County to be a place where it’s natural wind energy potential can be developed in order to provide additional property tax revenue, and jobs during the construction period and once operating.

We fear Stanton County and other similar places are snubbing their noses — which is their right — at the potential for rural economic development. There aren’t an abundance of those kinds of opportunities available in rural Nebraska, so it’s our hope Madison County doesn’t follow that perspective.

Wind energy is here to stay. Madison County has the potential to take advantage of it.

Let’s do so.