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The 168-turbine wind project north of Neligh moved a step forward thanks to approval from the Antelope County Planning Commission.
Members voted 5-2 to recommend Invenergy's conditional-use application to the county board of supervisors, who will have the final say on the project.
After nearly two and a half hours of deliberation and multiple changes to the original application, the board approved the permit. Some of the issues addressed with the proposed Upstream project were the airport approach zone and the three-mile turning zone that was brought to the board's attention at the last meeting by Joe McNally.
There was also discussion about the towers being placed on properties that where easements are not recorded. Invenergy representatives explained that they have the necessary easements signed, but they have not all been recorded due to the time involved to do so.
An estimated 400 full-time equivalent employees would be hired for construction of the Upstream Wind Energy project and approximately 12 new local jobs would be created during operations. According to Invenergy officials, $1.3 million in annual property and nameplate taxes would go to the county from this project.
The project currently has 168 possible site locations within a boundary of approximately 70,000 acres and would consist up to 350 MW of capacity. It will be located in north central Antelope County and possibly a small area in Pierce County.
This would be the fourth Invenergy wind tower project in Antelope County. The Prairie Breeze projects located in southern Antelope County have been in use since 2014 when Prairie Breeze 1 was completed. The completion of the second phase of Prairie Breeze has just been announced and the third phase is still in progress.
The motion to recommend the application to the board with the changes to the conditions was made by Matt Klabenes and was seconded by Greg Wortman.
The roll call vote was made with Phyllis Perdew and Bob Krutz voting no and Klabenes,Wortman, Kurt Rakow, Greg Miller and Mark Smith voting in favor.
Board members Dan Zwingman and Ron Rice were recused for discussion regarding the Invenergy's application.
The application will be addressed at the next meeting of the Antelope County Supervisors for its final approval.