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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

A report commissioned for the Nebraska Sierra Club that was released in October said Nebraska is trailing its neighbors in wind-energy development and missing an opportunity to add jobs to the state economy.

Omaha Sen. Heath Mello said he and other lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to pass renewable energy tax credits in recent years, while tax credits for other business ventures have won approval.

"We've passed sales tax exemptions for biochips, for data centers, and a variety of other industries," Mello said. "I think the issue at hand for us as state policymakers is: Why are we not looking at our tax structure to try to incentivize market growth in this industry?"

NPPD's Rich said the company won't lobby for an incentives bill in the session that begins next month, but it will watch with interest to see what related legislation is introduced.

The American Wind Energy Association says Nebraska ranks fourth in the country with its potential of more than 900,000 megawatts of wind energy.

The state has 11 operational wind farm sites consisting of 260 turbines capable of producing 459 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 165,880 homes, according to the Nebraska Energy Office. In 2011, 2.9 percent of the state's power was provided by wind.

By comparison, Iowa wind farms have a current total capacity of more than 4,500 megawatts, according to American Wind Energy, which is enough to power 1.1 million homes and meet nearly 19 percent of the state's total electricity demands for 2011.