September 17, 2016
Cherry County Commissioners
c/o Kay Reece
365 North Main Street
Valentine, NE 69201
Tanya Storer, Mark Adamson, and Jim Van Winkle, you are all my friends going back many years. I have the utmost respect for each of you for accepting the job of being a county commissioner. It is largely a thankless task, requiring much time and considerable hard work, and there is absolutely no way you can please all of the people all of the time. I wish to extend my appreciation to the three of you for serving.
The hot button issue of the moment is Wind Energy Development for Cherry Country—To be, or not to be, that is the question. As an interested land owner several years ago, I went to one of the first wind energy meetings. At that time, it looked to have possibilities, but my thought then was if I could continue to make a living ranching without having wind turbines on my place I wanted to do just that. Back then I was not prejudiced against them, but having learned much more in the years since, there are many more negatives associated with wind turbines than there are positives.
Wind turbines are not efficient. When the wind doesn’t blow, they don’t produce. Power companies don’t like wind as one of their suppliers. The power companies still need to have more reliable sources such as coal or natural gas as back-up when the wind doesn’t blow.
Wind Energy is highly subsidized, and if it wasn’t it would fade away very quickly. Despite being famous for touting the idea that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, investor Warren Buffet seems to be perfectly fine with receiving tax breaks for making investments in Big Wind. "I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire's tax rate," Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. "For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit." But while the wind production tax credit may be great for Buffet's bottom line, it's harmful for American taxpayers and energy consumers.
There is nothing wrong with doing all things legal and honorable to keep from paying taxes. Warren Buffet is using legal means to prevent paying taxes, but if in his own heart he knows wind turbines are not efficient, is it honorable of him to use this method? I think not.
Should Wind Energy get a toe-hold in Cherry County, it will go forth with much momentum. This is a big enough potential event, that it will be a mark in time to look back on in the future. Happenings will be known as Before Wind Turbines or After Wind Turbines. There are two sides to the Wind Energy movement, and each side thinks they are in the right. I don’t envy any of you commissioners as you seek to make the best call. This is a major decision, and it is probably of momentous enough proportion that it shouldn’t be left as a burden on the shoulders of you three. No matter which way you decide, you will be “the bad guys” to the other side.
A very viable solution to the whole problem would be to put the ultimate decision up to the vote of the people. The November 8th election is just around the corner. Why not include a ballot along with the regular ballot that will be mailed out? Even though it would not be legally binding in the strictest sense of the word, it could be a means to give you a basis on which to make your decision. It could even be worded in non-binding fashion, such as: Straw Poll. Are you FOR or AGAINST Wind Energy Development for Cherry County? Vote FOR or AGAINST. This would be a very simple solution to the problem at hand.
Another reason to wait until after the November election is to see who wins the presidency of the United States. If Donald Trump wins, he might realize the fallacy of Wind Energy and rescind most of the tax breaks which now keep it afloat.
Supposedly there are 450,000 acres of Cherry County land signed up in Cherry County Wind LLC. Cherry County contains about 3,815,000 acres. The 450,000 acres pledged to wind development represents about 12% of the total land in Cherry County. Keep in mind that there is 88% of the land in Cherry County that the owners probably do not want to be involved with Wind Energy, or the eminent domain factor that could possibly allow transmission lines to cross their property.
I think the ONLY way people of Cherry County are going to be satisfied with a decision FOR or AGAINST is if they have some kind of say in the outcome. If a vote comes out in favor of wind development, and wind farms become the norm, hopefully all who are against this happening can “suck it up” and carry on with their lives.
Cherry County has a lot of good people who have for the most part gotten along well with each other through the years. It is sad to see neighbor against neighbor over something as trivial in the general scheme of things as wind energy. I hope and pray that we can all go back to getting along, no matter the eventual outcome.
Stephen J. Moreland