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NPPD shows support for proposed wind energy project

A decision by Nebraska Public Power District Friday to review potential opportunities for expanding the utility's involvement in wind energy projects is an important development for Nebraska, said John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union.

"It's a victory that we are still going forward, but it is still a proposal and not a project until we get the power purchase agreement approved by the NPPD board," Hansen said.

Nebraska Farmers Union has been a strong advocate for developing the wind energy in Nebraska in a way benefiting local communities, Hansen said.

On Friday, the NPPD board authorized management to develop a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy the entire output of a 40-megawatt Nebraska community-based energy development project planned for northeast Nebraska.

The board will also review potential opportunities for expanding the utility's involvement in wind energy projects.

"The interest in developing wind in this region has grown significantly over the past couple of years," said NPPD President and CEO Ron Asche. "Continued participation in wind development projects not only complements NPPD's support for energizing Nebraska's rural economy, but also fits our goal to provide power through a diverse mix of generation resources and remain responsible environmental stewards."

Asche said NPPD currently generates and transmits enough power to meet the needs of nearly 1 million Nebraskans. But, he said, NPPD... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

"It's a victory that we are still going forward, but it is still a proposal and not a project until we get the power purchase agreement approved by the NPPD board," Hansen said.

Nebraska Farmers Union has been a strong advocate for developing the wind energy in Nebraska in a way benefiting local communities, Hansen said.

On Friday, the NPPD board authorized management to develop a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy the entire output of a 40-megawatt Nebraska community-based energy development project planned for northeast Nebraska.

The board will also review potential opportunities for expanding the utility's involvement in wind energy projects.

"The interest in developing wind in this region has grown significantly over the past couple of years," said NPPD President and CEO Ron Asche. "Continued participation in wind development projects not only complements NPPD's support for energizing Nebraska's rural economy, but also fits our goal to provide power through a diverse mix of generation resources and remain responsible environmental stewards."

Asche said NPPD currently generates and transmits enough power to meet the needs of nearly 1 million Nebraskans. But, he said, NPPD believes it is important to take advantage of additional renewable energy resources in the production of power, as well as projects that economically benefit NPPD and Nebraska's communities.

The owners and supporters of the project are in the process of determining a final site for the facility and completing their financing plan.

The proposed project would be owned by a local, farmer-controlled limited liability company in Nebraska and an equity investor. The proposal is supported by Nebraska Farmers Union, along with the American Corn Growers Association and the Center for Rural Affairs.

The proposed cost for NPPD to purchase power from the community-based project is expected to be in the range of 3.5 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. That is in line with what it costs NPPD to generate power from its Ainsworth Wind Energy Facility.

Asche said NPPD management will share more information regarding the proposal with NPPD's customer representatives during the next few weeks. He said the NPPD board will review the details of the power purchase agreement before casting a final vote.

Hansen said NPPD's decision to review the wind power project moves forward the possibility and prospect of bringing community-owned wind generation to Nebraska to complement public power ownership. Nebraska is the nation's only all-public power state.

He said developing the wind power industry will help to diversify Nebraska's alternative energy portfolio. Currently, the state has 12 ethanol plants turning corn into non-fossil fuel to power internal combustion engines.

"It will also create an additional revenue stream for rural communities," Hansen said. "Any time you can bring rural development that highlights rural ownership together with renewable energy, you are getting two benefits for the price of one."

NPPD owns and operates a 60-megawatt wind farm south of Ainsworth and two turbines near Springview. Total state wind power is estimated at about 75 megawatts.

The 36-turbine Ainsworth complex, which opened last year, is the state's largest wind farm. It produces enough electricity to provide power to 19,000 homes.

Nebraska is ranked sixth in the nation for the greatest energy potential from wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association.


robert.pore@theindependent.com


 


Source: http://www.theindependent.c...

JUL 8 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3388-nppd-shows-support-for-proposed-wind-energy-project
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