County Board approves moratorium on solar energy permits | Local News

A moratorium on commercial solar power permits that was set to expire Friday was extended another six months by the Gage County Board of Supervisors.

The board narrowly approved keeping the moratorium in place that results in the county not accepting special use permit applications for solar energy farms.

The moratorium is set to expire at the end of June 2022. The board decided to maintain the moratorium on commercial solar power because Gage County does not currently have solar regulations in place.

Earlier this month the board removed a matching moratorium on wind energy applications after 1 ½ years once a new set of wind regulations was put into place.

“The wind moratorium lifted once the regulations were updated, but both end at the end of this year,” said County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann. “When we were talking about this, (Lisa Wiegand, Planning and Zoning Administrator) had said there may be some want from Planning and Zoning to put a moratorium on this just so it gives you time to review the regs, update them and go through the process. We can have some solar regs in place.”

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While solar energy has been less controversial in the area, Tiemann added there will likely still be some debate.

“I think you’re going to see both sides, from people that love solar energy to people that think the reflection is going to make them burst into flame,” he said. “There’s going to be both sides. There’s a difference of opinion, but I think looking at what other counties have done… we have a starting point. Hopefully this will be fairly smooth.”

Wiegand said the commission is looking to establish solar regulations, but it will likely take at least six months.

“Setbacks are probably the number one concern and the property valuation to the adjoining landowner, should there be a single-family dwelling or subdivisions for viewshed,” she said. “Realizing that setting the tone with viewshed and that the demographic of living out in the county could be effected by a commercial operation.”

Once the Planning and Zoning Commission decides on a set of regulations there will be a public hearing before the commission votes on the regulations, which then go before the County Board. The board will have its own public hearing on the solar regulations before giving them final approval.

The county’s moratorium does not include private solar panels, only commercial operations.

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