County Board expresses support for solar projects

Julie Rach

Otoe County may soon have a solar energy project under construction.
The Otoe County Board of Commissioners expressed general support for such a project during its Jan. 28 meeting.
Board members were approached by Chuck Hassebrook, vice president of project development for Sand Hills Energy.
Hassebrook requested a letter of support for his company’s project, Rolling Prairie Solar, during the meeting.
Hassebrook outlined a 700-acre project that may be constructed in Otoe and Cass counties.
He noted that the Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca School District would benefit from increased taxes provided by such a project, which he also said would create jobs and would increase revenue for participating landowners in the two counties.
Board members were hesistant to support a single project over other potential projects in the future, but they were willing to provide Hassebrook with a general letter of support for future solar projects in the county.
Hassebrook has received a similar letter from Cass County. He was set to present his company’s proposal to the Omaha Public Power District on Jan. 29.
The proposed project would involve 12-foot-tall solar collectors that would be owned and maintained by Berkshire Hathaway Renewables, said Hassebrook.
He estimated that 10 companies would likely provide OPPD with bids for the project.
Commissioners heard the annual noxious weed report from County Weed Superintendent John Bebout.
Bebout said helicopter surveys along the Missouri River showed an increased growth of phragmites, a reed-like weed that takes over farmground if left alone.
Bebout said he plans to seek grant funding to cover the cost of spraying the phragmites along the river later this year.
Commissioners also approved a bid of $240,245.32 from Empire Construction and Trenching Inc., of Red Oak, Iowa, to construct a low-water crossing near Unadilla.
During the meeting, board members also received the annual Extension report from Sarah Purcell, Otoe County Extension Educator.
The board also tabled four agenda items to one of their two February meeting.
The next regularly scheduled Otoe County Board of Commissioners meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Otoe County Courthouse.