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It was set to be Nebraska’s largest wind project. Then the military stepped in.

Flatwater Free Press. By Natalia Alamdari, 16 Sept 22,

“…………………….. With about 150,000 acres leased by energy companies, this county of just 625 people stood poised to become home to as many as 300 wind turbines. 

It would have been the largest wind project in the state, bringing in loads of money for the landowners, the developers, the county and local schools.

But then, an unexpected roadblock: The U.S. Air Force.

Under the dusty fields of Banner County are dozens of nuclear missiles. Housed in military silos dug more than 100 feet into the ground, the Cold War relics lie in wait across rural America, part of the country’s nuclear defenses.

For decades, tall structures like wind turbines needed to be at least a quarter mile away from the missile silos.

But earlier this year, the military changed its policy. 

Now, they said, turbines now can’t be within two nautical miles of the silos. The switch ruled out acres of land that energy companies had leased from locals — and wrested a potential windfall from dozens of farmers who’d waited 16 years for the turbines to become reality.

The stalled Banner County project is unique, but it’s one more way that Nebraska struggles to harness its main renewable energy resource.

Oft-windy Nebraska ranks eighth in the country in potential wind energy, according to the federal government. The state’s wind energy output has improved markedly in recent years. But Nebraska continues to lag far behind neighbors Colorado, Kansas and Iowa, all of whom have become national leaders in wind.

The Banner County projects would have grown Nebraska’s wind capacity by 25%. It’s now unclear how many turbines will be possible because of the Air Force’s rule change.

“This would have been a big deal for a lot of farmers. And it would have been an even bigger deal for every property owner in Banner County,” Young said. “It’s just a killer. Don’t know how else to say it.”

LIVING WITH NUKES………………………..

Today, there are decommissioned silos scattered throughout Nebraska. But 82 silos in the Panhandle are still active and controlled 24/7 by Air Force crews.

Four hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles — ICBMs — are burrowed in the ground across northern Colorado, western Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana. The 80,000-pound missiles can fly 6,000 miles in less than a half-hour and inflict damage 20 times greater than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.

“If we ever get bombed, they say this is the first place they’re going to bomb, because of the silos that we’ve got here,” said farmer Tom May.

Every acre of May’s property sits within the two miles of a missile silo. Under the new Air Force rule, he can’t put a single wind turbine on his ground……….

Banner County had what developers called “world-class wind.” Many landowners were eager – signing away their acres came with the promise of roughly $15,000 per turbine per year. The turbines were also going to pump money into the county and school system, said county officials and company executives.


“In Banner County, it would have reduced property taxes to damn near nothing,” Young said they were told.

Eventually, two companies – Invenergy and Orion Renewable Energy Group – finalized plans to put up wind turbines in Banner County. 

Environmental impact studies were completed. Permits, leases and contracts were signed. 

Orion had 75 to 100 turbines planned, and hoped to have a project operating by this year. 

Invenergy was going to build as many as 200 turbines. The company had qualified for federal tax credits to start the project and had even poured the concrete pads that the turbines would sit upon, covering them back up with earth so farmers could use the land until construction began. 

But discussions with the military starting in 2019 brought the projects to a screeching halt. Wind turbines pose a “significant flight safety hazard,” an Air Force spokesman said in an email. Those turbines didn’t exist when the silos were built. Now that they dot the rural landscape, the Air Force said it needed to reevaluate its setback rules. The final number it settled on was two nautical miles —  2.3 miles on land …….

…………………………………… For most landowners, the news came as a gutpunch. They said they support national security and keeping service members safe. But they wonder: Is eight times as much distance necessary?

“They don’t own that land. But all of a sudden, they have the power to strike the whole thing down, telling us what we can and can’t do,” Jones said. “All we’d like to do is negotiate. 4.6 miles [diameter] is way too far, as far as I’m concerned.”

………………………………………. By 2010, Nebraska was 25th in the country at producing wind-generated power — the bottom of the pack among windy Great Plains states.

The reasons fueling the lag were uniquely Nebraskan. Nebraska is the only state served entirely by publicly owned utilities, mandated to deliver the cheapest electricity possible.

Federal tax credits for wind farms only applied to the private sector. With a smaller population, already cheap electricity and limited access to transmission lines, Nebraska lacked the market to make wind energy worthwhile.

A decade of legislation helped change that calculus. Public utilities were allowed to buy power from private wind developers. A state law diverted taxes collected from wind developers back to the county and school district — the reason the Banner wind farms may have shrunk taxes for county residents………………………………..

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, said pushback over wind farms has ramped up in recent years. But it’s a loud minority, he said. Eighty percent of rural Nebraskans thought more should be done to develop wind and solar energy, according to a 2015 University of Nebraska-Lincoln poll……………

“This resource is just there, ready to be used,” Brady Jones, John Jones’ son, said. “How do we walk away from that? At a time when we’re passing legislation that would vastly increase investment in wind energy in this country? That energy’s got to come from somewhere.” https://flatwaterfreepress.org/it-was-set-to-be-nebraskas-largest-wind-project-then-the-military-stepped-in/

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September 22, 2022 - Posted by | renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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