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Despite already having three wind farms, Antelope County's fourth project remains on hold, pending further discussion and possibly an estimated $10,000 study to determine the sound level of turbines.
During Tuesday's standing-room only meeting of the planning commission, discussion was held on Invenergy's conditional use application for Upstream Wind Energy, a potential project north of Neligh.
Several residents voiced their opposition of the wind turbines, alleging that they were not in compliance with the 50 decibel noise limit. Emily Kobylarczyk, project developer for Upstream, said they have not received any formal complaints on the sound level.
An official noise study has not been done in the area. According to Antelope County Zoning Administrator Char Carpenter, the cost of a noise study is estimated at $10,000 with a completion time of several weeks.
Carpenter said that the sound level was one of the major hold-ups with the permit.
“Right now it’s kind of the noise levels that we’ve been hearing about down at the Prairie Breeze project,” Carpenter said, "Some of them are telling us that it’s too loud, it’s over the 50 dB, we we need to get that checked out and figure it out before proceeding a little bit more with this one.”
Carpenter also said that FAA regulations and land owners not being notified were other issues she wanted to look into.
Other audience members spoke highly of the project, saying they believed it would increase economic development and help to bring young families back to the area.
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.
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 item was tabled by the board until their next meeting, February 9 at 1 p.m.