Some states require utilities to produce a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources like wind, solar, or hydropower. While clean energy is desirable, government mandates can drive up customer’s electric rates and monthly bills.
But more than a dozen states—including Nebraska, Florida, Wyoming, Idaho, and Georgia—have chosen a different approach. These states have concluded that power professionals should make decisions about which type of generators are built.
We call that local control — Nebraskans making decisions that benefit Nebraskans. Our state’s two largest power suppliers—Nebraska Public Power District and Omaha Public Power District—are working to achieve their respective voluntary goals that 10% of their energy supply will come from renewable energy sources by 2020.
There is no federal requirement that renewable electricity account for a set portion of the nation’s electricity. We think Congress is wise to let states make their own decisions about which types of electric generators should be built.
Nebraska’s publicly owned utilities are building renewable energy projects or buying renewable electricity from companies that build those facilities.
Nebraska utilities have participated in bringing these renewable energy projects online:
- Elkhorn Ridge Wind Farm, an 80 megawatt (MW) project located in northeastern Nebraska
- Laredo Ridge, an 80 MW wind farm located in east-central Nebraska
- Ainsworth Wind Farm, a 60 MW facility located in Ainsworth, Nebraska
- Flat Water Wind Farm, 60 MW project located in Richardson County, in the southeast corner of Nebraska
- Third Planet Wind, Petersburg, a 40 MW project located in central Nebraska’s Boone County
- Kimball, a 10 MW wind farm located in western Nebraska
- Elk City Station, a 6 MW landfill gas-to-energy plant located in Douglas County
- Springview II, a 3 MW project located in the north-central part of the state
- Salt Valley, a 1 MW wind turbine located outside Lincoln
- Valley Station, a 1 MW wind turbine located near Valley
- OPPD has installed 100 kW of renewable at Creighton University, including solar and wind power.
- OPPD has installed a total of 60 kw of solar and wind generation at its Omaha Service Center
- NPPD installed a 45 kW solar system at its Norfolk Operations Center
- OPPD installed a 5 kW solar array at its Elkhorn Service Center
Nebraska’s utilities also have contracts to buy more than 100 MW of hydropower from federal agencies and other utilities, which further “greens” the state’s electricity supply.
Today, Nebraska has over 450 MW of renewable energy generation, including those hydropower resources. In late 2012, two new wind power projects began operating. Those projects are:
- Broken Bow Wind, an 80 MW project located in central Nebraska
- Crofton Hills Wind Farm, a 40 MW project located in the northeastern corner of the state
In the 2015-2019 period, NPA members have plans to add several hundred additional megawatts of wind turbines. These projects are in the preliminary planning phase.
Nebraska’s customer-owned utilities take a prudent approach to supporting construction of renewable energy projects. NPA members work with each other, land owners, renewable energy developers, and customers to ensure that renewable energy projects are built in ways that minimize the short-term and long-term impacts of these projects on customer electric rates and the environment.