Nebraska Governor Signs Wind Industry Legislation

Author Larry Schulze, NATA Communications Director

The NATA Voice, May 2010

Sets Sights for Further MET Tower Marking Requirements 

On April 9, 2010, LB 1048, introduced by Neb. State Senator Chris Langemeier, passed on Final Reading 48-0-1. Its description is to “provide for approval and taxation of certain power generating facilities using wind as a fuel source.” Amendment 2159 was included and it provides for some met tower marking requirements as introduced last January.

Governor Dave Heineman enacted the bill with his signature on April 12. A summary of the bill has been provided in a public statement made by Senator Charlie Janssen of the 15th District. He stated, “LB 1048 was introduced by the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee to provide a venue for local farmers and power producers to have a venue from which to export power to markets outside the state of Nebraska. By having the ability to sell our wind power to out-of-state customers, the opportunities for private development can be expanded without Nebraska sacrificing its status as a public power state. LB 1048 will provide a vehicle where landowners and private developers can cover the costs to develop transmission lines for wind power export.”

LB 1048 provides for some limited met tower marking requirements. LB 1048, as passed, is available here. Page 7, Section 8, Paragraph (2)(a) and (2)(b), outline the marking of met towers as follows:

(2)(a) On or before January 1, 2013, all such equipment installed prior to the effective date of this act shall be either lighted, marked with balls at least twenty-one inches in diameter, painted, or modified in some other manner so it is recognizable in clear air during daylight hours from a distance of not less than two thousand feet. (b) All such equipment installed on or after the effective date of this act shall be either lighted or painted.

The Nebraska Aviation Trades Association (NATA) Board of Directors went on record to further enhance the met tower marking language by requesting further edits of Nebraska’s proposed language by adopting the recently passed (March 29, 2010)South Dakota legislation on met tower identification. Although LB 1048 passed without the incorporation of the South Dakota language, NATA did make a solid impression with key Senators.

When the bill was presented for its final reading, Senator Langemeier stated on the floor of the Legislature that further adjustments to the bill would be made. He stated that he will introduce legislation next session to adopt South Dakota’s met tower marking requirements. His announcement is very important and welcomed. Contacts have also been made with Senator Flood and his staff towards the same goal in preparation for the 2011 Session.

LB 1048 also requires the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics to develop and maintain an online, public database of met tower locations throughout the state. The online database will have two components. At the first level, there will be a list of counties. One can “click” on the name of a county and get a list of each met tower in that county. The information for each of the towers at this level will be 1) tower location coordinates and 2) tower height.

From the county list of towers, one has another link to get to the details for each tower. The details for each tower will include a copy of the met tower application permit, tower owner, tower contact information, height above terrain, nearest city, nearest airport. The Department of Aeronautics hopes to have the database initially online by June 1.

This information about the online met tower database is good news. It is all coming about because of NATA’s initial request at Aeronautics’ conference table last December and the association’s contacts with state senators. NATA thanks Department of Aeronautics Director Ronnie Mitchell, Senators Langemeier and Flood for their support to increase pilot safety and reduce aviation risks.

Now, during the unicameral legislature’s “off-season,” NATA is working with Senators Langemeier and Flood and their staffs to get South Dakota’s met tower marking requirements into Nebraska statute. NATA’s goal is to adopt the following met tower marking requirements from South Dakota.

  1. The top one-third of the meteorological tower shall be painted in equal, alternating bands of aviation orange and white, beginning with orange at the top of the tower and ending with orange at the bottom of the marked portion of the tower;
  2. Two marker balls shall be attached to and evenly spaced on each of the outside guy wires;
  3. The area surrounding each point where a guy wire is anchored to the ground shall have a contrasting appearance with any surrounding vegetation. If the adjacent land is grazed, the area surrounding the anchor point shall be fenced. For purposes of this section, the term, area surrounding the anchor point, means an area not less than sixty-four square feet whose outer boundary is at least four feet from the anchor point; and
  4. One or more seven-foot safety sleeves shall be placed at each anchor point and shall extend from the anchor point along each guy wire attached to the anchor point.

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

NATA’s Board of Directors has been very active in this endeavor. The agricultural aviation industry in Nebraska will benefit greatly from LB 1048 and the proposed met tower marking enhancements in the 2011 Unicameral Session.