Solar Energy, Next Regulatory Project For Gage County Planning Commission

BEATRICE – Solar energy is a next frontier facing the Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission, as the body starts forming regulations for use of the renewable energy method.

The commission met Tuesday night, in the early stages of discussion over how residential and commercial solar projects will be regulated.

Gage County Planning and Zoning Administrator Lisa Wiegand says she doesn’t see the level of contentiousness that sometimes followed proposed wind energy projects.

:39                  “100 kilowatts or larger”

Wiegand says there are financial implications for local governments and investors in solar-energy projects…much like wind energy.

:19                  “gaining in popularity”

Recently, Jefferson County’s Zoning Commission denied a permit for a commercial solar energy venture, as that county also first attempts to formulate regulations that govern solar projects.   Wiegand says Gage County also wants to be ready with regulations prior to solar development permits are sought.

:22                  “with a large permit, yet”

She says the county has been working with a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Energy Department Engineer, John Hay…the son of retired Gage County Extension Educator Paul Hay and Julie Hay.

Wiegand says John Hay has done considerable research on solar lease agreements for solar investors.

:21                  “the panel size”

An important part of the early discussion is education about the various systems that utilize solar energy. Wiegand says she plans to attend an upcoming conference on solar energy that some local commission members also want to attend.

Wiegand estimates that establishing a draft of regulations could be a six-to-nine-month process.

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