Cass County Commissioners Vote on Solar Project

MURRAY, Neb. — Over the last year, signs reading “No Solar Farms,” have popped up around southeastern Cass County. The signs include the red lettering on a plain white background. They are in response to a proposed Solar Farm project by NextEra Energy for the area. The proposed project would build a solar farm North of Murray which would produce nearly 320 Megawatts of clean energy. Though the energy would be produced by a private entity, it would be sold to public power entities OPPD and NPPD for distribution.

NextEra Energy estimates the project would bring $38.4 million in additional tax revenue to local entities. The total project investment would be $476 million and include 250 construction jobs. The proposed project would be operational by December 2025.

The controversy has arisen in community meetings and Facebook posts due to concerns over the project. Some residents note the company’s out of state origins and question its motives. Others dislike the idea of taking agricultural land out of production or looking at solar panels out their windows. Then, some complaints are more extreme, as individuals relate solar energy production to President Biden, alleged environmental harm, and even the Chinese government.

On March 28, the Cass County Commissioners approved new zoning regulations that imposed restrictions on solar farms in the county. One regulation requires all solar projects be at least 500 feet from a residential property. These may not be the final regulations and the county has yet to hear or give approval for the project itself.
The move towards renewable energy is a nationwide and worldwide phenomenon as humanity grapples with the onset of climate change. Scientists around the world have long warned that nations must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent climate change and mitigate environmental disasters. Clean energy production including solar, wind, and hydrogen power are key to phasing out fossil fuels.

Cass County could be a leader in renewable energy production for Nebraska or it could be shut down due to the concerns of area residents and County Commissioners.