Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Wind energy means so much more to Nebraska than just increasing our energy independence. For much of rural Nebraska, it means more jobs, economic development, landowner and community involvement, and more opportunity to grow our cities and towns. Harnessing this state resource diversifies the state’s energy generation portfolio with a renewable and clean source.
Two and a half years ago, I signed into law passed LB 1048 to encourage the development, ownership and operation of renewable energy facilities for exporting wind energy from Nebraska. At that time, Nebraska had 73 operational wind turbines at five sites with a total capacity of 152 megawatts, enough to power about 46,500 homes.
As of August 2012, Nebraska has 337 megawatts of wind energy capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The $145 million Broken Bow project and the Crofton Hills project will bring Nebraska’s capacity to 459 megawatts. Nebraska’s continued progress in wind development is creating positive results.
At the Nebraska Wind Conference last month Ross Knott, President of the Petersburg State Bank, told attendees about the optimism in their community from the two wind farms with a combined 81 operational turbines with an output of 120 megawatts. “You can see it on people’s faces; hope for new jobs and new families, five new homes have been built and for the first time in years, small children can be seen playing in the park. A new grocery store opened in town,” said Knott.
These wind development projects are bringing constructions jobs to the state, some crews with 100 workers. Permanent jobs related to the wind farm maintenance are adding to the local economies beyond the construction phases. The ripple effect is increasing annual tax revenue, including property taxes. A donation made by the wind developer in Broken Bow is giving back to the community and supporting the Public School Foundation capital campaign for elementary gymnasium improvements. This is the prosperity that community involvement and economic development bring to Nebraska’s future.
Additionally, Nebraska is experiencing advancement in other renewable energy sources. NPPD installed 45 kilowatts of solar at their operations center in Norfolk. Creighton University partnered with OPPD to install solar arrays on campus for educational and job training opportunities. LES and OPPD have made investments in biogas recovery from landfills. Chadron State College and Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farms in Nebraska City have been heating and cooling 1.5 million square feet of building space for the past 20 years using 13,000 tons of woodchips annually. Renewable energy advancements are taking place all across the state. Our goal is to ensure Nebraskans have reliable, affordable and cleaner energy in the future.
In 2013, electricity produced from wind will meet the needs of more than 140,000 homes in the state, approximately 18 percent of all homes in Nebraska. This is an important step forward for energy independence and for economic development in rural Nebraska.
By Governor Dave Heineman