Articles filed under Energy Policy from Nebraska
I read in the Norfolk paper recently that there is a lot of “myth and misinformation” about wind energy. The article was forwarded to me by one of wind energy’s strongest lobbyists in Nebraska. He argued that only a poorly informed “vocal minority” opposes wind energy, and the vast majority of citizens support it. Clearly this man hasn’t spent a lot of time talking to people in my legislative district. Whenever someone directs the argument away from the numerous problems created by wind energy, to instead a discussion about the relative size and importance of the opposition, it’s easy to see where that train of thought is headed.
Like all power-generation facilities, wind energy turbines have a lifespan, and at the end of that time, the companies that built them are required to decommission the sites. There is no minimum requirement for what decommissioning entails under Nebraska law, however, leaving those agreements up to the wind energy providers and landowners who agreed to have turbines erected.
"Eminent domain for a private purpose was something I did not believe should be in law, especially if it's going to be a particular industry benefiting from it," he said. "I think it's worth discussing again." While it would apply throughout Nebraska, the bill especially had been sought by residents of the Sandhills, some of whom said a neighbor should not be forced to allow a feeder power line to pass through their land to reach a bigger transmission line, such as the Nebraska Public Power District's R Project.
A bill portrayed as stifling private wind energy development fell two votes short of advancement Wednesday during a sometimes hot and personal debate. State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon promised repercussions after his Legislative Bill 155 failed to advance from first-round debate on a 23-8 vote, two short of the needed majority to advance.
It was heart-wrenching for Brewer, he said, to see the Sandhills residents in the balcony, who were there for probably the fifth time on the issue, watch as senators who were elected to represent their districts be unwilling to listen to the debate. And then walk in at the end and not vote, or vote against it. "It really doesn't leave a very good taste in their mouth about what this unicameral's all about," he said.
Rural residents who dislike windmills clashed with renewable energy advocates and economic development officials over a bill that would regulate the construction of wind turbines. ...Many were worried about noise or other problems from a turbine allowed on a neighbor’s property.
State Sen. Tom Brewer, a Republican who represents the scenic Sand Hills region in northwestern Nebraska, said he’s willing to reintroduce a bill from last year that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on wind development in the region.
Supporters of a proposal that wind energy developers warn would severely restrict economic development in rural Nebraska said they’re not being heard by their local elected officials. So they pleaded their case to state lawmakers.
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.