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Bill would regulate wind energy in Nebraska

Posted at 6:12 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 19:23:19-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Wind energy is one solution that many supporting green energy say can help the country move away from fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas.

But Senator Tom Brewer, who represents much of the Sandhills, said they cause a different reaction in his district.

“When it came to Western Nebraska, what we had happen was a tear in the fabric of the communities,” said Brewer.

Brewer said Friday he wasn’t there to debate the merits of wind energy, but said the bill would tackle the most challenging aspect of wind energy in the state.

He said those living in Western Nebraska get upset about the turbines being built near the homes because it can cause land values to decrease.

“Your ability to have somebody come and want to look out at the front window of this giant wind turbine has caused you to either not be able to sell your home or have the value of that home degraded,” said Brewer.

His bill would require counties that want turbines to implement zoning regulations.

That would mean requiring counties to provide fixed distances between turbines and homes and property lines, as well as specifying maximum noise levels.

Plus, they would be required to have a plan to decommission the turbines, which can be hundreds of feet in length.

“It doesn’t mean we're opposed to zero carbon generation. It doesn’t mean we’re necessarily opposed to wind generation. It does mean it has to be done properly,” said Brewer.

Opponents said the bill is anti-local control, while also saying the state should embrace wind energy. They explained that it’s cheap and doesn’t require transport or water. They believe the bill unfairly targets the wind industry.

“Nebraska law does not require counties to adopt zoning regulations, period. This bill would do so but only for one industry,” said David Levy, an opponent of the bill, representing the wind industry.

Other opponents said counties have the ability to do what is in the bill, without a state mandate.

“Nothing that I read in this bill is something a county can choose, is prevented from choosing to do on its own,” said David Bracht, an opponent of the bill.

Senator Brewer has been a longtime opponent of wind turbines and pushed a similar bill two years ago that would have also required turbines be three miles from any residence.

Read more: Nebraska Legislature hears wind energy bill

That bill could not get enough votes from the full legislature.

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