KEARNEY, Neb. — Energy companies will have to meet a new set of requirements if interested in building a wind farm in Buffalo County.

The Buffalo County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to approve distancing rules that were recommended by the planning commission. The rules say a wind farm can’t be located or expanded within three miles of agriculture residential zoned property, three miles from any parcel owned by a non-applicant, three miles of a church, hospital, pool or park, five miles of any village or city, two miles of a burial site, the Platte River and South Loup River areas or five miles from a wildlife preservation or management area.

Companies were previously allowed to apply for a special use permit to build a wind farm in certain zoning districts, but there weren’t specific distancing requirements.

According to meeting minutes, the Planning Commission considered two proposals regarding wind farm regulations at its meeting on February 16. One proposal was less restrictive and would have implemented one-mile setbacks. The planning commission chose unanimously to recommend the more restrictive requirements that eventually passed through the board of commissioners.

Several people spoke in favor of the new requirements at both meetings. Nobody formally spoke against them or in favor of lighter restrictions.

Passing the requirements follows a recommendation in the county’s newly-passed comprehensive plan to re-evaluate special permit requirements for commercial wind and solar farms.

Buffalo County wind farm regulations, Buffalo County Commissioners Agenda 3/14/23 Buffalo County wind farm regulations, Buffalo County Commissioners Agenda 3/14/23