Eminent Domain Issues in Wind Energy Development

State Sen. Tom Brewer said Thursday that his latest proposal in front of a legislative committee isn’t about slowing down Nebraska wind energy development.

“Instead, the Gordon legislator’s proposal to restrict Nebraska public power utilities’ eminent domain authority is about protecting private property interests, he said.

“As proposed, Brewer’s Legislative Bill 752 would prohibit Nebraska electric utilities from using eminent domain authority to obtain right of way ‘on behalf of a third party accessing the infrastructure to sell electric energy.’ (State law allows private companies to generate electricity in the state only if they use renewable technology like solar panels or, more commonly, wind turbines. Power generated in other ways must be owned by public entities, like the Omaha Public Power District.)”

Friday’s article noted that, “‘It prevents private parties from using one of the most powerful tools of government,’ Brewer said of the bill. ‘(Eminent domain) should not be used for private interests or for one group of private citizens to impose their will on another.’

“Eminent domain is when the government or a government entity takes private property for public use; the government pays the property owner.”

Mr. Epley added that, “Developers have cited friendlier regulations as a main driver of significantly increased wind energy activity in Nebraska in recent years. For comparison, Nebraska wind projects now generate more electricity annually than the Hoover Dam.”

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