Grange hosts Wind Farm forum

WEISSERT -- John Richards of Nebraska Public Power District presented NPPD’s approach to wind development to the Weissert Grange community April 20. John is an engineer of renewable energy development. His goal through his presentation was to educate Weissert’s citizens on the many benefits of wind generated power. The major points that NPPD hoped were taken from the presentation were; NPPD is supportive of wind generation for Nebraska and for export to other states. NPPD has developed wind generation over the last ten year and has plans of adding more wind generation opportunities over the next decade. NPPD interacts with landowners, wind developers and their customers for ways to minimize the short and long term rate and risk impact. Obtaining low cost renewable wind power starts with good site selection practices. When promising sites have been identified, developers meet with the landowners. If enough landowners in the area are interested, NPPD works out an arrangement where they study the wind on the landowner’s property. Studying sites allows for the selection of the land that results in the lowest cost for wind energy. Private developers can benefit from federal incentives that public power cannot. Production Tax Credit is 2.2 cents per kilowatt which is equal to about 1/3 of the value. Wind energy is the only form of power where the price is known for over a 20 year period. NPPD knows what the energy costs are up to year 2023. Keeping low cost renewable wind power continues by working with developers. NPPD issues a request for Proposal (RFP) to developers requesting power cost bids using one of the landowner sites. The developer can use their own site as well. NPPD selects developers based on the bid and credentials and negotiate the final Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Benefits of renewable wind energy definitely seem to outweigh the issues though NPPD has addressed both in the presentation John gave. Nebraska is ranked 3rd in wind energy.Potential wind energy reduces carbon-dioxide emissions. Richards explained that there are great income opportunities for landowners. Wind farms create job opportunities in rural Nebraska with the hope of keeping the younger generation in the area. It also creates a potential attraction of manufactures to the state. There is very little waste and no water needed for operation. Nebraska already has developed 10 wind farms and three under construction; like Broken Bow I which is scheduled to start producing power by the end of this year. Broken Bow II is under discussion as well, but may prove to be cost prohibitive to build. Nebraska’s current wind power is 294 megawatts. NPPD leaves the final decision up to the public. They make sure that any environmental or safety concerns are addressed with the Nebraska Wildlife and Game & Parks departments. Safety is discussed with the landowners and other community members. Before any further investigations NPPD tries to make sure all questions and concerns have an answer. The most beneficial things are the income generated for landowners and money that stays in the community from the power produced. The community has the biggest say in the development. After the three current projects are completed, NPPD has no other projects in the works until 2017. This allows for plenty of time for more research and to develop the best possible options. *The information contained in this article was provided by John Richards of NPPD through his PowerPoint presentation.