Broken Bow - Custer County - you have some serious bragging rights.
October 16 Edison Mission Energy dedicated a 50-turbine wind farm, and city and county leaders joined energy developers from across the U.S. sitting front and center. Land owners filled in on the flanks.
The $145 million project know as Broken Bow LLC is located approximately three miles northeast of the city. The project, operated by Edison Mission Energy (EME) is capable of generating up to 80 megawatts of electricity, enough energy to meet the needs of about 25,000 homes in Nebraska.
The wind cooperated Tuesday, the magnificent giants appearing hard at work. As of late afternoon, 36 of the turbines were officially commissioned and on-line.
Taking part in Tuesday’s ceremonies were Gov. Dave Heineman, EME President Pedro Pizarro and Nebraska Public Power District President and CEO Pat Poe.
“When you’re a developer, these are the best days ... the turbines are spinning and the project is a success ... Getting to the finish line is everything.”
Heineman gave his nod of approval.
“You’re in one of the best communities, in one of the best counties in the state,” he said. “We aren’t going to put one of these wind farms on Dodge Street in Omaha.”
He reiterated his stance on fiscal soundness. “We represent the finest people. We don’t spend dollars we don’t have. Rural economic development is crucial in our ability to create jobs to keep our kids at home. this is what it’s all about.”
He went on ...
“I can’t imagine why you would want to live in California?” He said of Pizarro.
Pizarro spoke of the pride of being involved, and thanked the leadership.
“It takes leadership, and it takes support,” he said. He spoke of the fairness with which Nebraska Public Power treats its customers and he spoke of the relationship EME has with its land owners.
“We put our faith in them and they put their faith in us. Their decisions didn’t come easy,” he said.
“We’re on your land and in your homes.”
He also spoke of the importance of being a good neighbor, and that at the end of the day, safety counts.
“We are proud to be here and take seriously our commitment to the environment,” he said.
Pizarro is a scientist by trade with a PHD in physical chemistry.
“We’re proud to supply clean energy to the cities of Nebraska.”
In an earlier conversation, NPPD Board Member Dennis Rasmussen talked about the need for wind energy.
“I think this is just the start of wind development in Nebraska, but it won’t be quick nor will it be cheap. As part of NPPD, we will be watching to be sure we are part of the curve.”
NPPD is the purchasing agent for the power coming off Broken Bow LLC.
Mention was made Tuesday of Broken Bow Wind II, a second wind project for Broken Bow. It remains in the development stage.
In the beginning, NPPD engineer John Richards said they looked at 23 sites across Nebraska for possible wind development and Broken Bow was one of the 10 where they placed a meteorological tower to measure wind and weather.
“John McIntosh now has a turbine where that met tower was placed,” said Richards. That was around six or seven years ago.
“You weren’t entitled to this project, you earned it,” said Senator Tom Carlsen.
Tuesday, Pizarro left the ‘best’ for last. Broken Bow School Board President Michelle Zlomke was called to the stage and presented with a $20,000 check made payable to the Broken Bow School Foundation for its “Little Feet, Big Dreams” project.
Zlomke thanked EME for making an investment in the children.
“I’m so proud to be from Custer County,” said Custer Economic Development President Melissa Garcia in her remarks toward the end of the program. “We don’t want to lose site of the trickle down effect,” she said of the project’s scope.
“Almost $8 million has been created outside of the construction. There has been $2 million more in taxable sales, 84 percent above the state average. Edison Mission Energy is a huge part of this effect.”
According to an earlier press release, the project contributed approximately $5.6 million to the state in sales tax revenues during the construction phase and will provide average annual tax revenues of approximately $600,000 over the next 25 years in property taxes and state income taxes.
In addition Broken Bow will generate an average of $540,000 per year in lease royalties to local landowners. Seven permanent jobs have been created in the Broken Bow area.
“I know we want to continue working in the state of Nebraska,” Pizarro concluded.”