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Commissioners ‘cap’ zoning fees

After hearing from a potential wind power developer Monday, the Boone County Commissioners decided to modify their schedule for zoning permit fees adopted last week.

Steve Boyer, representing Third Planet Windpower, said the company’s wind field proposals submitted to NPPD and OPPD earlier this year reflected the county’s previous much lower zoning permit fee.

Under the new fee schedule set to begin July 1, wind developers could pay nearly $750 per tower for wind generators valued at $2.9 million each.

The zoning permit fees are $25 for the first $10,000 in value, and then 25 cents for each $1,000 of value beyond $10,000.

Barb Hanson, zoning administrator, said she feels the fee schedule is fair based on the amount of work needed for the applications, but later said she would be comfortable with a cap.

“We understand the need for an updated fee schedule, but we were hoping that the fee would be lower based on the lower cost of power in a public power state,” said Boyer.
All fees and costs are important in Nebraska’s competitive bidding process for wind development, he noted.

“We are going to be high on the scale in comparison to other counties (based on the new schedule),” said Commissioner Hank Thieman. “I think we should consider having a cap on the value of each structure.”

Commissioner Tom Schuele then suggested placing a cap of $750,000 per structure for the zoning fees. Under this cap, a wind field developer would pay a maximum zoning fee of about $210 per tower, regardless of the structure’s total value.

The commissioners then adopted the revised fee schedule reflecting the value cap.