Published On: Wed, Nov 2nd, 2011

Area town wants to pursue new wind farm

HARTINGTON — Cedar County Commissioners learned Oct. 26 about Laurel’s pursuit of wind energy and talked about safety issues with cell phones.
Wind energy turbines could be on the horizon for the Laurel community.
Annette Junck, Laurel Economic Dev. Director, and Keith Knudsen spoke to the Cedar County Board concerning wind energy.
The City of Laurel has conducted a wind study that proved to be very successful, according to Junck.

“We are looking at putting up a small wind farm by Laurel. It is in the early stages – we are just talking about it,” Junck said. “A group has been formed in Laurel and we have talked about the partners we would need and how it would be managed.”
Contacts have been made with a potential developer and a consultant.
“We are looking at some Nebraska investors. The towers would be out of the city so Cedar County would be the entity for issuing the bond. It would not be a liability for the county,” Knudsen said. “Basically we just wanted to keep you informed – this is still the early stages of the project.”
The Laurel Economic Development Board has been working on several projects for the city. Laurel could possibly support up to 10 towers depending on the projects that would be completed and the demand for additional electricity.
“Realistically, we are looking at two or three, maybe five towers,” Knudsen said. “This could help make the electric rates more attractive to businesses that might be coming into Laurel.”
Cedar County Board members indicated they would be interested in working with Laurel.
“We have sponsored these types of bonds before,” Commissioner Marlen Kraemer said. “We, as the county board, are always willing to help the communities in the county.”
At this point, this is just an idea and a lot of work has to be done before any wind towers could be constructed, according to Junck.
“We are still working through a number of things,” Junck said. “A lot of things have to pan out yet, but the potential is exciting.”
In other action Tuesday, Commissioner Kraemer said he has some safety concerns when county workers are driving motor graders and trucks while using a cellphone.
“They are using their own personal cellphones – some of the calls are personal and some are for county business. They are using cellphones a lot more than the radios,” Kraemer said.
Kraemer suggested the issue should be discussed when the county’s policy manual is reviewed.
Commissioner Terry Pinkelman agreed.
“It can be a safety issue,” he said.