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Nebraska wind farm project awaits power buyers

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm •  Published: December 27, 2012

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — A wind energy development company says it is ready to build a 200-megawatt wind farm in northeast Nebraska, but it has had difficulty attracting customers because the state's lack of tax incentives means it would have to charge more for power than companies based in other states.

TradeWind's quandary was discussed last month at the Nebraska Wind Conference in Kearney and earlier this month at the NPPD board of directors' meeting as officials updated the board on wind energy problems.

Nebraska's lack of state tax incentives for wind projects forces project developers to charge more for power, which allows projects in other states to dominate the market for exported power, said David Rich, of Nebraska Public Power District, which has been buying wind energy to meet its goals for providing power from renewable resources.

Frank Costanza, executive vice president of business development for TradeWind, told The Associated Press on Thursday that prices Nebraska projects have to charge are always higher by several dollars per megawatt hour — up to 10 percent higher than power from comparable wind power projects in Kansas or Oklahoma, for example.

"I can tell you that until there is some movement in Nebraska, we're going to have a more difficult time in marketing power from Rattlesnake Creek," Costanza said. Without customers committed to buying the power, he said, the project won't get built.

TradeWind's Rattlesnake Creek project in Dixon County would generate enough electricity to power about 60,000 homes, according to the Columbus Telegram.

The Nebraska Legislature approved a bill in 2010 allowing private investment in wind projects for export to other customers in other states, but proposals for incentives have not advanced, Rich said.

"Nebraska projects are getting beat out because those states have put incentives for wind for export whereas Nebraska hasn't," he said.

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