AP NEWS

Nebraska county enacts distance rules for wind turbines

February 20, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — County officials in southeastern Nebraska have approved a rule aimed at protecting residents not being paid to participate in a wind farm project from the noise generated by the turbines, while still allowing the project to move forward.

The Lancaster County Board voted Tuesday to require wind energy developers to place turbines at least 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away from homes that aren’t participating, The Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The rule is the strictest in the state and will protect homeowners and their quality of life, said County Commissioner Deb Schorr. The previous setback requirement adopted three years ago was 1,000 feet (305 meters), though longer distances could be set for taller turbines.

The mile limit was proposed by Prairie Wind Watchers, comprising residents from Lancaster and Gage counties who oppose the NextEra Energy wind farm project.

Prairie Wind Watchers decided on the mile proposal following a NextEra Energy study that found a mile setback was needed to meet noise standards, said Mark Hunzeker, an attorney representing the group.

David Levy, an attorney representing NextEra Energy, said the study was based on some of the louder turbines being considered for the project. He said there are new turbines that are less noisy and could be placed closer to homes.

“There is no reason to add this other requirement,” he said.

Hunzeker said enacting restrictions to limit noise before the turbines are built will be more effective than trying to regulate noise limits after turbines are installed, since officials are unlikely to order the removal of an expensive turbine that breaks noise restrictions. He said the mile standard would be easy and inexpensive to enforce.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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