03 December 2015

Cherry County Commissioners to Continue Evaluating Energy Element

A proposed energy element for Cherry county will continue to be evaluated by the county commissioners, after a proposed document was discussed at the December 24th meeting and public hearing.

The energy element prepared for the county planning commission was developed in response to legislative bill 997, which stated that "a city of the metropolitan class" should assess energy infrastructure and energy use, evaluate renewable energy sources and promote energy conservation measures. The legislation denoted an deadline of January 1, 2015.

The prepared document was not acceptable to the commissioners, as reflected by their comments:

"Don't understand what it accomplishes," in regards to some language in the document
"Seems pretty generic"
"Does not make much sense"

The document the commissioners - Mark Adamson, Tanya Storer and Jim Van Winkle - considered included a general introduction, a discussion of sustainability, energy infrastructure, energy use, renewable energy structures and state programs related to energy.

In regards to the electrical distribution, the sentence "The overall distribution system is in good condition" did not have any attribution, and obviously was an opinion.

Within the energy infrastructure section, it appeared as if paragraphs had been copied from some other source, based upon the regular use of we and our words, as if Cherry county was the provider of electricity. There was no given attribution.

In the renewable energy sources section, the wind energy facility south of Ainsworth, Brown county, and the turbines at Springview were mentioned. There was no information given on the wind turbine west of Valentine.

The state programs information seemed out-of-date, as there was no mention of current legislation or programs, as the details refereed to items all prior to 2010.

Suggested of the "easiest" "strategies" for reducing energy use were:

  • using the most current and energy efficient sources of lighting, especially in concern to light bulbs
  • installing more insulation in buildings
  • converting to digital/programmable thermostats
  • updating air conditioners and furnaces to more efficient modern systems
  • replace older appliances with newer, more energy efficient appliances
  • replace older "less efficient" water heaters with newer units

Further research would be needed to take any action and to determine how it would fit with the county comprehensive plan. County commissioners attending the upcoming Nebraska Association of County Officials meeting indicated they would discuss this topic with representatives from other counties.

If approved, the energy element would be incorporated within the county zoning regulations.

There is, however, no mandate to enact an energy element, and no penalties if it is not enacted.

The energy element was submitted to the commissioners by the planning board. It had been prepared by a consultant company for $600.