County Commissioners approve road haul agreement with NextEra Energy
Members of the NextEra Energy team and the commissioners along side the highway superintendent, county attorney and county clerk poured over maps provided by NextEra for the Sholes Wind Energy Center during the recent meeting of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.
Now that a vast majority of the environmental impact studies and surveying work has been completed, the company brought the draft site map before the commissioners to start discussion about haul routes and driveway locations.
The commissioners and highway superintendent Mark Casey showed where there were miles of no road or dirt road and bridges unsuitable for heavy equipment to utilize while NextEra's project managers Phil Clement and Kim Dickey took note of changes.
While the tower sites are finalized, there is a number of things that NextEra will be working closely with the county on in these upcoming months to ensure the roads used are maintained properly and kept usable during planting and harvest seasons.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the final draft of the road haul agreement with NextEra that outlines fees, utility crossing depths and other road-related topics.
Given the fact that Wayne County does not have zoning, this agreement is as close to regulating the project as it can be.
NextEra's attorney David Levy, who was on hand to answer questions and explain as necessary, offered a compliment to the commissioners and to Casey for such a thorough document.
"I've done about ten of these," Levy said. "This is the cleanest, most comprehensive road haul agreement I've seen. This will become the standard."
In addition to approving the road haul agreement contract with NextEra, the commissioners also approved the company's application to place a utility line in the county road right of way.
The transmission line would boost the capacity for Nebraska Public Power District in the area.
After going over the specifications, including that the poles will stand 140 feet above ground and will be four feet in diameter at their bases, the commissioners agreed to approve the application contingent on a site visit with Casey and Mark Mainelli with Mainelli Wagner and Associates, a civil engineering firm the commissioners utilize out of Lincoln.
According to Clement, the project should be operational by December barring complications.
Another wind farm will be utilizing the county roads, but this one is only for transportation purposes.
Casey received an email and a phone call from TOTRAN, a transportation company based out of Alberta Canada.
The company requested use of county roads to move the generator cells for the Rattlesnake Wind Farm project in Dixon County. The proposed route would utilize 21st Street and Centennial Road to avoid going through town.
Schematics were sent to Casey of the equipment used to haul the generators and the size is staggering.
Each generator alone weighs 240,000 pounds. The trailer used to haul the piece is 16 feet wide and according to Casey will have over 100 tires between it and the rigs pulling and pushing it.
The company is looking to move 7-8 of these generators each week for the duration of the summer essentially.
Commissioners asked Casey to go back to TOTRAN to discuss rocking the road prior to their arrival at their cost as well as paying for any damages done to the roads.
In other news, Wayne City Administrator Wes Blecke updated the commissioners on the Gill Hauling sanitation service agreement.
UNL Extension Agent Amy Topp will be utilizing funds left in her budget to plan a career exploration day for freshmen in Wayne County this fall after the board approved her request.
Other requests to the board included one for Sievers Farms, combining two operations into one location which was approved by the board. The other request by Dan Hansen for a two barn finisher housing 5,200 head of finisher hogs was tabled until Casey can meet with him to discuss a few questions.
The next meeting of the board will take place on May 15 at 9 a.m. in the meeting room at the Wayne County Courthouse.