Nebraska is trailing its neighbors in wind-energy development and missing an opportunity to add jobs to the state economy while producing a cleaner form of energy, according to a report released Thursday. A group of lawmakers and environmental advocates unveiled the report as they argued that Nebraska is well-positioned to tap wind as a renewable energy resource.
Dave Vavra has been waiting five years to get those big trucks — hauling giant blades and long tubes for a wind farm — to roll into Saline County. Vavra is president of the Saline County Wind Association, a grass-roots group made up of 260 members representing 60,000 acres that may be suitable for wind energy development. The group has tried to attract a developer without success. A company that showed interest has since left the wind industry, and discussions with several others have gone nowhere.
A report today from the wind industry’s main trade association highlights the link between stable tax policies and growth in turbine installations. Thousands of megawatts have come online this year, with even more expected to do so by the end of the year, but new project starts have slowed to a trickle. More than 4,700 megawatts of wind turbines have been installed so far this year, including more than 1,800 MW in the third quarter, and an additional 8,430 MW are still under construction, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s third-quarter report.
Whichever way the wind blows, it’s probably passing through this town of 3,300 in north-central Montana. At least that’s the picture Shelby Mayor Larry Bonderud paints as he rattles off facts and figures about wind energy development here, seemingly without pausing for breath during a recent interview in the office of his optometry practice.
Wind industry representatives will gather today to discuss the long-term economic implications of their key tax break, including how and whether it could be reduced or phased out and what policy mechanisms could replace it, according to sources familiar with the meeting. The two-day, closed-door meeting being convened by the American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s primary trade association, is separate from the industry’s long-standing push for an immediate extension of the production tax credit, which expires at the end of this year for wind.
Custer County landowners Dale and Phyllis Green never expected to share their family ranch of more than 50 years. But today, a single wind turbine soars about 80 meters into the sky and sits on a section of rolling pasture where Dale, 82, and Phyllis, 72, used to raise cattle. The turbine is one of 50 in the just-completed $145 million Broken Bow LLC project, a joint effort by Edison Mission Energy, a subsidiary of Edison International, and the Nebraska Public Power District.
About 25 military veterans will be roaming the halls of Capitol Hill tomorrow and Thursday to push for an extension of a key wind-industry tax break that is set to expire at the end of this year. The lobbying effort is being organized by the nonprofit Operation Free, a veterans organization that promotes renewable energy. Workers will come from E.ON Climate and Renewables, Invenergy, Gamesa, NextEra, EDP Renewables and Siemens.
On Tuesday, Garcia and other Broken Bow officials, along with Gov. Dave Heineman and utility representatives are to dedicate the 80-megawatt wind farm about three miles northeast of the central Nebraska town of 3,500. The wind farm has 50 turbines scattered over 14,000 acres. Each turbine tower is about 262 feet high, topped with a 1.6-megawatt power plant. Total generation capacity is 80 megawatts, enough to meet the energy needs of about 25,000 homes.
Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens has sold his stake in a controversial wind farm proposed in Goodhue County, Minn., but its new owner says the project is going ahead. Dallas-based American Wind Alliance, founded by Pickens in 2009, said Friday that it has sold 100 percent of the company behind the Minnesota project, whose name has been changed to New Era Wind Farm LLC. The financial terms were not disclosed.
Billionaire oil-and-gas tycoon T. Boone Pickens is abandoning his long-planned wind farm, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Pickens has in recent years changed his eponymous “Pickens Plan” for reducing oil imports to emphasize natural gas rather than wind power for electricity generation. The Star Tribune reported Pickens sold his stake in the Goodhue County, Minn., farm, but that the 50-turbine, $180 million project will go forward.