Large Solar Project Near Lincoln Receives Permit Approval

Sept. 5, 2019, 9 a.m. ·

The members of the Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday. (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

A large solar energy project in Lincoln got special permit approval Wednesday.

The Lincoln-Lancaster Planning Commission heard citizen testimony in support and opposition to the Salt Creek Solar Project at a public hearing in Lincoln. The project is being developed by Ranger Power, and would be built just east of Lincoln.

Supporters praised the environmental benefits of solar power.

Sean Flowerday is Lancaster County Commissioner for district one. He supports the solar project due to his concerns about climate change.

“Our community has to be a leader in clean energy," Flowerday said. "Our community has to be a leader in renewables and finding a new path to get away from the old model of fossil fuels that we've been on for such a long time. Nebraska is the only state in the nation to see an increased use of coal from 2006 to 2016.”

Opponents were primarily homeowners in the area of the project who said they are not opposed to solar energy in general, but are concerned about the project’s proximity to their homes.

Ken Richards lives in the area and attended the meeting with several of his neighbors.

“We built these homes and bought these homes for living out in the country and we don't want solar panels in our backyard," Richards said. "I cannot walk out of my house with their project where they have it set up and not see them. They're gonna be right there.”

Opponents also expressed concern about impact on home values and potential fire risk. Developers say the project meets all safety code requirements.

Opponents will have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the city council.