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Bow goes green

June 21, 2012

It’s not easy being’ green’ nor is it cheap. One doesn’t jump into a green project just because it sounds like a good idea. There have to be incentives on the other end.

In 2007, Nebraska a new law created Production Tax Credits (PTC) for Community-Based energy Development or C-BED. State law allows for these incentives because of Nebraska’s unique situation as a public power state.

A Nebraska Public Power study put it this way ... “C-BED projects are perceived as a benefit to public power because they enhance public power’s prerogative to support rural development and support least-cost energy development while encouraging Nebraska ownership in wind energy projects ...”

NPPD has been mandated by its board of directors to have 10 percent of its energy come from renewable sources.

This same analysis indicated that Nebraska could support 7,800 megawatts of wind energy by 2030. Nebraska’s wind resources are among the top 10 in the country. The report goes on to say that the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 20 percent of the U.S.’s wind energy could come from this area of the country.

The tax incentive for these projects is aimed at keeping the profits generated from local labor, capital, material and lease moneys instate whenever and however possible, and in helping make the construction of the projects more feasible.

The paybacks to the economy are huge. According to the report, if, and this is a big if, 7,800 megawatts of wind were constructed as the reports says the state could house, the estimated downward ripple effect of moneys could pay out as follows: $32 million of payments to landowners per year, $28 million per year in tax revenue; $255 million per year to local economies in long-term jobs. Keep in mind that the phase of the Broken Bow Wind project now under construction will have 80 of these megawatts.

Part of the incentive is financial, the other key words are renewable, home generated and local. The 80 megawatts of electricity that the 50 towers under construction will produce is enough energy to meet the needs of about 25,000 homes.

What the project does require though, is big business. Together, Broken Bow’s Wind Farm owners Edison Mission Group and NPPD will be putting an estimated $145 million into the project for their perspective obligations.

Not all green projects have to have big pricetags.

The Green Coalition is in the process of putting bicycle racks in the square to encourage citizens to ride their bikes downtown.

The Green Coalition was also instrumental in bringing Pioneer Energy Solutions to the community to help Broken Bow home owners make their homes consume less energy to operate, to cool and/or to heat.

Joan Birnie, Green Coalition chair, says that she wishes there were more incentives to recycle and reuse. Without the incentives people just “don’t do it.”

“Yes people are using the recycle bins, but everytime I go it is the senior generation I see out there, they are the ones who learned growing up to reuse.”

Recycle bins are located near each of the grocery stores, and at the Custer County Transfer Center located on the Ryno Road, just west of Broken Bow. Broken Bow was recently honored for a program put into place through the utility department for replacing the city streetlights with ones that are more energy efficient.

The program will pay for itself within two years, explained City Manager Tony Tolstedt, and was initially funded through a matching grant.

“This is huge for Broken Bow,” said Tolstedt, “Anytime we can save energy, every benefits.”

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