Library from Nebraska
Look south from Interstate 80 in Nebraska's Panhandle and you will see a nearly endless string of wind turbines on the horizon. But none of the nearly 340 bright-white towers is in Nebraska; they're all across the border on the scrubby, high plains of Colorado. The sight of multimillion-dollar wind farms in adjacent states - but not in Nebraska - has been a constant irritant for many lawmakers and their constituents.
Concerns about cost and preserving the strength of the state's public power system could limit any new wind-power incentives. In a survey, many senators appeared reluctant to do anything that might jeopardize the state's relatively low electricity rates and some expressed doubts about whether Nebraska's electricity grid is ready to deliver wind power from rural areas, where it would be generated, to urban areas, where the demand is higher.
Stahr said counties' interest in regulating wind power picked up after two events last spring. First, the state's first commercially developed wind project, Elkhorn Ridge near Bloomfield in northeast Nebraska, went online in March. Second, the state Legislature passed a bill in May enabling net metering, which allows residents who generate their own power to sell the excess back to public utilities.
Larry Walth thought he was seeing green when he put up a small wind turbine in his backyard on the edge of Wishek's city limits. ...The Walths put up the 39-foot tower with a 2.6-kilowatt turbine motor in June. Now, because of failure to conform to city zoning codes, he's been told to take it down by Friday, or face possible fines of up to $500 a day.
People listening to policymakers debate the nation's energy future might think: Just erect a lot of wind turbines, and problem solved. Or install a bunch of solar panels, and let the sun do the work. But renewable energy alternatives present costs and challenges just like traditional energy sources - coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydropower.
Two 197-foot tall ‘meteorological towers' erected recently on the Nebraska-South Dakota border northwest of Chadron could be the harbingers of a wind energy boom for Dawes County, but one landowner involved with the development says not to expect to see big turbines going up anytime soon. "One thing they told us-'If you are in a hurry, forget it," Dawes County Zoning Commissioner Ed Perrine said at a zoning meeting last week. "It can take up to five years after they set a met tower (before a wind generating installation is complete)."
The future of an 80-megawatt wind farm near Broken Bow depends on the Nebraska Public Power District's ability to find buyers for half of the energy it would generate. NPPD Renewable Energy Development Manager David Rich of Columbus said at Monday's "Wind Power 2009" conference in Kearney that NPPD-approved projects at Petersburg, north of Albion in Boone County, and Broken Bow in central Nebraska would generate a total of 160 megawatts of electricity.
Two agriculture heavyweights, the Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Cattlemen, are joining the fight for increased development of wind energy in the state. ...State Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, said one key issue is who would pay the estimated $20 billion needed to build the transmission lines needed to export wind power to major population centers in the East and South. Right now, Langemeier said, Nebraska ratepayers would be on the hook for building those lines "for someone else to profit from wind energy".
It's coming. Wind energy is making it's way across the country and throughout Nebraska. Now, there's a good chance it will be coming to Hamilton County. While there aren't any large wind farms in the area to date, there are some individuals in the area looking to make use of the renewable energy resource.
When Congress adopted higher standards for the use of corn-based ethanol, a gold rush of ethanol plant construction in Nebraska and the Great Plains resulted. A similar decision concerning wind energy, which will soon face federal lawmakers ...Shelley Sahling-Zart, a lobbyist for the Nebraska Power Association, said utilities have varying abilities to meet such mandates. She said they should be free to pursue renewables as "they make economic sense for our customers."
A landowners association in this community has set its sights on doing whatever needs to be done to establish a wind farm in Banner County. The Banner County Wind Energy Association held its first membership meeting Wednesday night, filling the Banner County Fire Hall with people interested in plans by two companies to establish a wind farm in the rural county.
City council members want to take some time to think about allowing wind energy in the community. Following a 20-minute public hearing on June 2 about zoning and subdivision regulations which included wind energy systems, the council decided to introduce the proposal and amend language at the June 16 meeting.
The bill would allow Nebraska's public power districts to waive their eminent-domain power when signing a contract with a private, wind-farm developer, which proponents say was a roadblock to some wind projects. It also allows the state's public power districts to build wind farms larger than 80 megawatts to take advantage of economies of scale.
Entrepreneurs who dream of building small-scale wind, solar, methane or other renewable energy projects could sell their power to the Nebraska Public Power District. The Columbus-based utility is interested in receiving request for proposals for projects of fewer than 10 megawatts that meet Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act guidelines.
Nebraska Public Power District's goal of providing 10 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010 will be met in part through wind generated power, a company representative said Monday. But, in a presentation to the Chadron City Council, account representative Terry Rajwich emphasized the challenges involved in creating and using electricity from wind, and concluded that customers can find more savings by conserving power than by erecting small scale wind generators.
Asche discussed challenges that face the public power industry from the current push toward wind for export. ...He said the current public power model is based on the concept that power generated is for Nebraska customers with any excess power then made available for sale to other markets. Under the "wind for export" model, power would be generated for the sole purpose of selling it outside the state.
The Nebraska Public Power District has received 18 proposals to build wind farms in central and northeast Nebraska. Nine developers submitted the proposals in time for Wednesday's deadline.
Not everyone is thrilled with a proposed wind farm project for land in Knox and Cedar counties. Because of the large initial investment needed to get such a wind farm off the ground, Midwest Energy is partnering with Edison Mission and also a third-party funding source on this project. It would not qualify as what's known as a C-BED project, which makes it possible for landowners involved in the project to be investors in it, too.
A plan is in the air to harness the wind that blows across Northeast Nebraska in Knox and Cedar Counties. Close to 250 people showed up at a meeting in Wausa Thursday to learn about a proposed mega wind farm that could be located in eastern Knox and southwest Cedar counties. ...The proposal is for a state-of-the-art 1,200 mega watt wind farm.
At a time when renewable energy is all the rage, one of the windiest states in the nation seems unlikely to spur new projects because of a tight budget with little wiggle room. ...And Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, who leads the legislative committee that sets tax policy, said while wind energy incentives and the like are important, "I don't think we're going to be able to do much this year."