Nemaha County commissioners update public on wind farm proposals
After a short executive session by phone with their attorney James Neeld, the Nemaha County Commissioners welcomed public comment during their meeting on Monday, Jan. 14, regarding the wind farm proposals in the Nemaha County. Those present for the meeting were Commissioners Dennis Henry, Tim Burdiek and Gary Scoby, as well as County Clerk Mary Kay Schultejans, two NextEra Energy representatives and multiple members of the public.
Scoby said that Nemaha County is still waiting on the footprint and density study from NextEra, which NextEra representative Spencer Jenkins said they would present to the commissioners, but were hoping to get some exclusion areas from Neeld, before they presented their final footprint.
“I think what we would like to do it see your plan and then determine if we need to fine tune that to protect the interest of those in communities and the interest of those in the airfield,” said Nemaha County Attorney Brad Lippert. “We’re having a difficult time going forward with some of the terms we would propose you with the PILOT agreement, until we get the footprint and the density study.”
Jenkins said they would get that to the commissioners.
Henry questioned NextEra about businesses in rural Nemaha County.
“What is your position on businesses in rural Nemaha County?” he said. “Are you respecting their rights as business owners?”
“From the standpoint of land use or compatibility issue,” said Mark Trumbauer, NextEra representative. “If there is something in that business that would be impacted by our wind farm, we should know that and trying to coexist with community is our goal. If there is something that we need to be aware of [such as an business expansion] please let us know and we can plan accordingly. Probably not going to be a problem but we will definitely take that into consideration.”
The commissioners also said there are still questions on whether the wind farms will impact the schools in Nemaha County.
“We still have not gotten an approval from the State of Kansas saying that it [the wind farm] is not going to affect them,” Henry said. “We have not gotten a straight answer from the State of Kansas. We still have questions that we need answers to.”
“I think the biggest question is will this pull schools’ funding,” Burdiek said. “If we tie on $300 million to our valuation [as a county] they will take the 25 percent away from them. Our preliminary understanding is that it will not, but then you hear from other deals. We will get it ironed out.”
The commissioners also traveled to Pratt and Reno counties Tuesday, Jan. 14, to observe and the wind farms that are in both of those counties, as well as meet with one commissioner from each county to discuss the projects. Neeld planned to join the commissioners on their trip. Any public meeting or executive session that was held during this trip was not available at The Herald’s press time.
The next commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 22, due to the holiday on Monday.