Wind Farm Term Sheet: County residents speak up at public debate

Approximately 100 to 150 Nemaha County residents attended all, or a portion, of the first public debate for the proposed Soldier Creek Wind Farm in southern Nemaha County on Monday, April 22. Fifty-three county residents expressed their opinion publicly regarding the project.

A total of 42 residents opposed to the project spoke, while only 10 residents in favor of the project spoke. In addition to these speakers, the lawyer who represents the Nemaha/Brown County Concerned Citizens Group – Pat Hughes – also spoke.

Also speaking during the meeting was former CFO of CJ Foods, Lynette Strathman, of Bern. She presented to the commission her updated Economic Impact Study that she originally presented on Jan. 22, 2019. Her new report shows the net economic effect to the citizens of Nemaha County is still a loss of $32 million over 30 years. This number does not include anything for decommissioning, or the $79,000 tax exemption granted to NextEra.

Also present for the discussion was Nemaha County Commissioners Gary Scoby, Tim Burdiek and Dennis Henry; the county’s hired wind farm attorney James Neeld; Nemaha County Attorney Brad Lippert; Nemaha County Clerk Mary Kay Schultejans; and Assistant County Clerk Mandy Sudbeck.

A wide variety of residents were present who live within the proposed footprint, as well as many who did not live within the footprint.

in favor

Some of the statements from those in favor of the project included the following:

• Multiple businesses have closed and are no longer paying taxes. Taxes have gone up substantially over the years and NextEra is willing to spend money in Nemaha County by paying taxes.

• Wind turbines will provide guaranteed income for landowners, which helps to pay the increasing property taxes.

• Good opportunity for Nemaha County to bring in tax dollars.

• Property owners have the rights to make decisions regarding their own land.

• There is not another way for Nemaha County to receive the same amount of money as it will from this project.

• If this money is made available to landowners, farms might be able to avoid bankruptcy.

• There has been sacrifice throughout this country for decades, because decisions were made for the people. We need to make the sacrifice for the good of everyone.

• People will adapt to the turbines, just like they have other things that have been built on the land.

not in favor

Below are some statements that were brought up from those opposed to the project, as well as a few facts from the debate.

• Many speakers said they would prefer for commissioners to go back to original setback requirements that were put into place in 2012, and then was rescinded in 2016, which were 3,000 feet setbacks from residences and 1,500 feet from property lines.

• Multiple people present also mentioned that they signed a petition in opposition of the Soldier Creek Wind Project, which had more than 1,300 signatures as of Monday.

• Turbines will not be beneficial to Nemaha County or the citizens.

• The distance from property lines and residences is too close, the way the current term sheet is written.

• The impact the turbines will have on families, children and the future of Nemaha County and its citizens is concerning.

• There are documented cases of people who have been affected health wise by wind turbines.

• Residents of Nemaha County are being sung a “lullaby of lies” by NextEra.

• Young families will not want to move to or back to Nemaha County if the countryside is “littered” with wind turbines.

• Energy from the project is not being used locally.

• There are studies of adverse health effects in relation to wind turbines, such as effects from infrasound and shadow flicker, which can effect those with epilepsy.

• Infrasound needs to be studied inside the homes.

• This project will affect the growth of Nemaha County.

• Wind turbines will effect property values and will discourage families from building homes in the country.

• It is not safe to farm land in close proximity to wind turbines unless the wind is blowing perpendicular to the blades.

• City residents get to live a mile or more away from turbines, but country residents do not even get a 1/2 mile.

• The term sheet should be revised or not taken as it is currently.

• We need to slow down and think about the consequences of this project, because the term sheet appears to be in favor of NextEra instead of the citizens of Nemaha County.

• This decision will divide Nemaha County and is a property rights issue.

• The job of commissioners was to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Nemaha County.

• Two people said that they live within the area of the project and they had not received notification from NextEra regarding the public hearings, as previously agreed upon. It was asked how they are able to trust NextEra to honor anything that has been agreed upon.

• Multiple people asked the commissioners to put a moratorium on their decision.

• If someone wants to put in a hog building, they have to go talk to every neighbor within 3,000 feet of where that hog building is being placed.

• The term sheet has many holes. It needs to be more specific. For example, is the infrasound being measured on the inside of the outside wall of a residence or on the outside wall of the outer wall of a residence?

If you are interested in listening to the full audio recordings of the meeting, please email us at news@sabethaherald.com for the link.

Following the public debate, Nemaha County commissioners went into 30-minute executive session in order to protect attorney/client privileges.

Heather Stewart200 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.

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