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Senator Tom Brewer
This week I introduced my priority bill, LB 1054. It’s a bill that addresses wind energy in Nebraska. It’s been a long, hard road coming to this place. In the past 13 months, since I was sworn-in a Nebraska State Senator, I have been fighting to get a bill passed that addresses this issue. Second only to high property taxes, there is nothing more important to the people of the 43rd Legislative District than wind energy. Speaking of, the people of the district have answered the call and endured the drive to Lincoln. On three separate occasions – some of them driving over 8 hours one way – they have come to fill the hearing room and testify before the Natural Resources Committee. Patiently waiting their turn, they have sat for hours on end. They have passionately and often emotionally recounted the long list of harm brought about by industrial wind energy. Those who couldn’t make the trip have written dozens of letters in support. I am humbled by the people of the district. I cannot put into words my profound respect for them. It is an honor it is to represent such an exceptional group of Nebraskans.
The committee now has to meet in executive session to vote my bill out to general file.
This story starts two years ago when LB 824 passed in 2016. This bill was sponsored by some Senators who are still in the legislature. Former Senator Ken Schilz was the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee in 2016. He made LB 824 a committee priority bill and led the effort that got this bill passed. He is now a lobbyist for wind energy. This bill took away the people’s voice in wind energy projects. They oppose my bill and will definitely lead a filibuster against it because my bill reverses what LB 824 did for big wind. The battle for LB 1054 is really just beginning. I welcome the chance to debate LB 1054 on the floor, but make no mistake. We will need 33 votes to break the filibuster. The hundreds of millions of dollars they make off the backs of tax-payers is why wind energy companies trample the rights of their neighbors in the first place, and they will fight hard to protect their special status. The spectacularly wealthy big wind lobbyists will fill the rotunda that day, and their patron Senators in the legislature will vigorously argue against my bill. In the weeks to come, I’ll use this weekly update to call for your support, and I’ll need it.
I welcome the chance to debate LB 1054 on the floor because this bill is about fairness. This bill is about giving citizens that are affected by industrial wind energy projects a voice that was taken away from them two years ago. The pro-wind energy bill that passed two years ago exempted wind energy from much of the Power Review Board (PRB) process. The PRB is a sub-division of Nebraska state government that regulates and has oversight over power generation, transmission and distribution in Nebraska. One of the steps in the PRB process is a public hearing on proposed projects. Members of the public “with standing” (lawyer-speak for; people who can legally prove they are affected by a project) have an opportunity to be HEARD before the board and have what they say MATTER to the board such that it must be considered when the board issues it’s ruling to approve or reject a proposed project.
Nebraska is the only State that is 100% “public power.” Public utilities in our State are subject to numerous layers of oversight and regulation that gives members of the public multiple opportunities to be heard. Add to this the fact the board members in charge of our public utilities are elected.
PRIVATE generators of electricity on the other hand, such as wind energy, managed to get themselves exempted from this sort of oversight two years ago when LB 824 passed. They are not elected. They took away the people’s right to be heard. My bill LB 1054 simply restores this right. It puts wind energy back into the only process Nebraska has; the Power Review Board. When they testified in opposition yesterday to this “burdensome, unnecessary regulation” I was forced to wonder; “How did they manage to build all the wind energy in Nebraska before 2016 when they had to go through the PRB process?”
Don’t be fooled. You’ll hear supporters of big wind say “local control” provides the people a voice. Ask yourself how that is possible when the wind energy business model is to first come into a county and sign-up as many elected officials as they can as investors / paid land-owners. How can a county board or a planning and zoning commission member be objective and unbiased and look out for the best interests of everyone if they have a conflict of interest? This exact set of circumstances is playing-out in counties all over Nebraska.
The people need to get their voice back. If an industrial wind energy project really is the good neighbor they claim to be, they should have no problem listening to the people around their project testify in a public hearing. What are they afraid of?
Please contact my office with any comments, questions or concerns. Email me at; firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail a letter to; Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1202, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509 or call us at (402) 471-2628.