Library filed under Energy Policy from Nebraska
Sen. Tom Brewer plans to introduce a bill next legislative session to place a two-year moratorium to block wind development in the Sandhills. “There's a mad rush right now to build wind turbines in the Sandhills and common sense cannot put a corner-post line and not have put in a dead man to anchor it," Brewer said. "So why would you build a 5,60-foot tower in sand and not question the wisdom behind that?"
In between a morning briefing marked by vehement anti-wind sentiment and an afternoon hearing for a study on public power ordered by the Nebraska Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee, opponents on the Capitol steps protested wind farms and a 225-mile electric transmission project planned to traverse the Sand Hills.
A requirement that wind developers reach a power purchase agreement with out-of-state buyers represents one of the biggest hurdles to more rapid development in the state, said Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, who introduced the key language in the bill last year. The bill would strike that requirement along with other more minor regulations.
Legislation attempting to remove restrictions placed on the development of wind energy in Nebraska appears to be stalled in committee, although an effort is underway to circumvent the usual path and advance the bill to a floor debate.
A coalition of business, labor and civic leaders called on Lancaster County leaders to approve policies that will allow wind energy development. The group has begun collecting signatures for a petition that expresses support for “balanced policies that allow wind development" in Lancaster County.
A negotiated proposal to spur private development of wind energy in Nebraska was presented to the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday with the Nebraska Public Power District on board.
The bill would eliminate a requirement that the developer have a purchasing power agreement in place before a project could be approved by the Nebraska Power Review Board. ...opponents say a faster approval process could create an influx of power that would oversaturate the grid, cause massive congestion and increase prices for rate-payers.
Presently wind energy developers are free to build wind farms in Nebraska after going through the Power Review Board process. The push for wind tax credits is powered by greed and fueled by money from special interest lobbyists (the lobbyist cartoon under the wind-tax editorial was very apt). Developers want the taxpayers, through tax credits, to pay for 25 percent of the estimated $2.5 million cost of each wind turbine, thus guaranteeing the investors an immediate profit.
State senators announced Friday that they will introduce five bills intended to advance Nebraska's renewable energy industry, increase economic development and provide property tax benefits.
On Friday, the Nebraska Public Power District announced that it is conducting a "Generation Options Analysis" to study the benefits, costs and challenges of its electricity generating facilities. Potential resources including natural gas, nuclear power and wind will all be examined.
Invenergy, the first wind-power company to take advantage of Nebraska's new wind export law, has been running into some economic headwinds recently in Virginia and other states. In some cases, state regulators have been unwilling to give the go-ahead to proposals to sell wind power because of the impact on utility rates.
The Nebraska Public Power District announced last week that it had rejected all 34 proposals received from private developers to build more wind farms. The Columbus, Neb.-based utility asked developers this spring to submit proposals on a site near Madison, Neb., and any other sites the developers had investigated. The decision comes as the demand for wind energy has softened nationwide.
Tom Richards, director of governmental affairs for OPPD, said such mandates create a "non-competitive situation" in which energy sellers can dictate their price, which could result in higher consumer rates. ..."Nebraska is not big on mandates."
Governor Dave Heineman has signed into law a bill he says will lift Nebraska into the major leagues of wind power among US states by ending a public monopoly over its generation. "This legislation marks the beginning of accelerated wind energy development in Nebraska," says Heineman, with the law to take effect in mid-July.
Nebraskans may begin seeing turbines on the skyline within 12 to 18 months as private companies begin using a new state law Gov. Dave Heineman will sign on Monday. ...Senators gave final approval Friday to the bill (LB1048) intended to attract wind-energy companies that would export energy from the state.
Nebraska lawmakers have given second-round approval to changes designed to lure wind-energy companies that would export the energy from the state. The bill (LB1048) would allow the Nebraska Power Review Board to approve wind-energy operations designed to export energy.
A key finding revealed that in addition to the infrastructure and operating costs for wind turbines and equipment and transmission facilities, there is an extra 10 percent cost for wind energy to Nebraska utilities - or $5.41 a megawatt-hour - to integrate wind generation into the generation mix. This cost was evaluated at the 10 percent wind generation level and takes into consideration the cost of using other generation facilities to help balance wind power's variability.
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.
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.
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.