Library from Nebraska
An explosion and fire at a wind farm under construction in northeast Nebraska has injured three workers. One man, who was atop a tower when a turbine exploded, received first- and second-degree burns in the fire Tuesday morning. Two others, who were nearby, were treated for smoke inhalation and released.
A guy in a suit knocks on your door and says he's a wind farm developer and wants to put a big wind turbine on your farm. He offers you thousands of dollars for a long-term lease and says you can still farm the land and make some good money, too, just by signing a piece of paper. Sounds tempting. What do you do?
Energy sources from the atom to industrial hemp were promoted in Nebraska City Friday at a Nebraska Energy Office hearing. Neil Moseman, who Gov. Dave Heineman appointed in May to head the energy office, said the hearing was the last of eight held across the state in advance of revisions to the state's 1992 policy.
Two conditional use permits regarding meteorological towers were unanimously approved by the Otoe County Planning Commission Thursday, Oct. 16, at Syracuse. Both will be forwarded to the Otoe County Commissioners for their approval. One tower will be near County Road L and County Road 10 as requested by the Kenneth Hartman trust. The other tower will be south of County Road P and near County Road 18 as requested by Russel and Keith Moss.
[E]xperts say, read the fine print. Under some contracts with wind developers - contracts ranging from 30 to 180 years - rural lands could be affected for generations to come. ...Too often, landowners hear a sales pitch and sign a contract without reading it. "If the wind blew at your place yesterday and it blew there today, it's probably going to blow there tomorrow," said Hansen, who urges farmers not to let wind developers rush them.
Seems like there's plenty of interest in helping the Omaha Public Power District more fully embrace wind power. The uility on Friday received 12 proposals to provide it up to 80 megawatts of wind energy.
Utilities, private contractors and entrepreneurs know how to build wind farms. They can evaluate wind potential, negotiate easements with farmers and ranchers, construct 230-foot tall towers topped with 131-foot blades, and put electricity on the grid if there's access to transmission lines. What they can't do is chart a clear path to the future for wind energy because it will be greatly influenced by decisions made in Washington, D.C. For now, there is no comprehensive national energy policy.
Midwest Wind Energy obtained "exclusive options" from landowners covering more than 6,000 acres near Douglas and Burr in Otoe County and about 5,000 acres near Plattsmouth, said Mike Donahue, executive vice president of the company. Donahue said the company is looking at both counties, which are within OPPD's service territory, and sites elsewhere, including Iowa and Kansas, in an attempt to win a renewable energy contract with the utility. OPPD has asked developers to submit proposals to supply 80 megawatts of wind generation. The deadline for proposals is Oct. 10.
Plans to build one of Nebraska's largest wind farms have set the wheels in motion for the expansion of the substation located approximately 5 miles north of Bloomfield. "We're expanding the substation to, first of all, support the planned 80-megawatt wind farm with Midwest Energy, and secondly, a 40-megawatt facility that hasn't formally been announced yet," said Mark Becker, media relations specialist for the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). ...But Becker said Nebraska residents won't see a reduction in electricity rates from the installation of wind farms. "Right now, wind is a fuel that is free - it's not like coal or nuclear which we have to pay for," he said. "But wind energy generation is very sporadic and we have maintenance issues, as well - turbines are mechanical and problems do arise, so there are expenses."
The Nebraska Public Power District, along with Midwest Wind Energy LLC and its affiliate Elkhorn Ridge Wind LLC, announced today that after several months of negotiations the parties have executed a 20-year power purchase agreement that will pave the way for construction of Nebraska's largest wind farm near Bloomfield. The 80-megawatt Elkhorn Ridge wind energy project, to be constructed by the end of 2008, is expected to produce an amount of energy equivalent to the amount of electricity used by approximately 25,000 Nebraska residences in a year. The project is a direct result of NPPD's efforts to expand participation in wind development by issuing a Request For Proposal last July for wind projects up to 100 megawatts in size.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
At this time last year, Nebraska advocates for wind energy were bracing for another legislative session of mostly futile efforts to nudge public power out of its resistance to privately developed wind projects. Now, the Nebraska Public Power District, the state's largest public utility, is negotiating with three private developers on projects totaling 150 megawatts a figure that would dwarf the state's current production of 73 MW per year. ...But not everyone is excited about the push into wind. ...Southern [Power District] spokeswoman LeAnne Doose said the utility's board is concerned about installing a traditionally more costly form of power at a time when utilities are passing double-digit rate increases. Doose said she has seen a groundswell of support for wind energy, but she's concerned that utilities might bow to popular pressure rather than coming at wind with "a common-sense approach." "It's coming," Doose said. "We just hope that it's done in more of a sensible way."
Seven proposals for wind-powered generation projects are in the initial stages of review by the Nebraska Public Power District. In mid-July, NPPD invited developers interested in building and operating more wind-powered generation in Nebraska to submit proposals by Aug. 20. NPPD said it will evaluate the projects and make a recommendation to its board of directors. The projects could add 100 megawatts of wind power to the utility's existing nuclear, coal, wind, water, diesel and natural gas facilities.
It will be November before a final decision is made, but at least two companies have indicated an interest in building a transmission line that would pass near Hays. One of those companies - ITC Great Plains - officially is on record that it would like to build the line, which would run from Spearville to the Knoll substation just northwest of Hays and then to Axtell, Neb., just south of Kearney. While it's significant that the line would come close to Hays, it's also the first line that a relatively new state agency - on its own accord - has proposed building if no private company steps forward.
Lack of available replacement parts, significant maintenance issues as the units aged, and the opportunity to demonstrate new technology, were the prime reasons for the decision to retire the units, NPPD said in a news release.
This pair of pioneer turbines put Springview on the map just nine years ago, as a U.S. Department of Energy demonstration site to test the feasibility of small wind farms. They were Nebraska's first commercial wind turbines. With a capacity of 750 kilowatts each, the duo generates enough electricity to power about 350 homes - less than half of what today's turbines can do. The turbines have been plagued with repair and maintenance issues, causing extensive downtime and expense.
Over the past year - after building Nebraska's largest wind-powered electric generation facility near Ainsworth - the Nebraska Public Power District has received approximately a half dozen proposals from private wind developers interested in building one or more similar- or larger-sized facilities in the state.
SPRINGVIEW, Neb. - In this ranching village near the South Dakota border, there's a Turbine Avenue and a Turbine Mart convenience store and the annual Wind Turbine Days festival. But soon the two wind turbines that inspired those names - the first in Nebraska when they were erected in 1998 - may be coming down. Frequent breakdowns and increasingly expensive repairs are dooming the graceful structures.
Gov. Heineman signed a bill Monday encouraging communities to develop the wind turbines that generate electricity. The new law financially encourages towns and landowners to develop a "field" of turbines, working in conjunction with Nebraska's public power companies. Under that model, rural Nebraskans would own the development and not sell the wind rights to private companies. The bill recently passed the Legislature, 49-0.
State lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a measure to encourage wind farms in Nebraska. The bill would permit public power districts to work with private developers and landowners to build electricity-generating wind turbines. All 49 lawmakers voted in favor of Legislative Bill 629, which now goes to Gov. Dave Heineman for his signature. Under the plan, developers and private equity firms would work with rural Nebraskans to build wind farms and collect federal incentives for alternative energy production. When the incentives expire after 10 years, the Nebraskans would attain full ownership of the projects.