A last ditch effort to sideline a bill providing millions of tax breaks to a Kansas company considering building a wind farm in northeast Nebraska fails as the legislature approves the incentives.
Under provisions of LB 104, Trade Winds of Lenexa, Kansas will receive $16 million in tax breaks to build a $300-to-400 million wind farm in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County. The farm would be capable of generating 200 megawatts of electricity which would be exported to other states.
The Unicameral approved LB 104 38-2 with eight senators not voting, but that strong support didn’t come until an attempt to send the bill back for further debate failed.
Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala made the motion during final reading to send the bill back for more debate.
“We need to talk about this,” He told colleagues.
Schilz argued a program created by the legislature in 2007 would be more appropriate. It is the Community-Based Energy Development program, known as C-BED, and requires a local investment to receive tax breaks.
Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, the bill sponsor, told colleagues the bill has been debated enough.
“As you might expect, I stand in strong opposition to the amendment,” Lathrop stated during floor debate. “And, frankly, it comes as a bit of a surprise that it’s been filed.”
Schilz had filed the amendment during Select File, but withdrew it, only to file it again on final reading.
Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion called C-BED a more cautious approach to develop renewable energy that would make a better fit for Nebraska, which operates public utilities.
“We don’t want to lose the advantage we have with public power in this state,” Smith stated.
The motion to send LB 104 back for more debate failed on a 21-17 vote with 10 senators not voting.
The incentives included in LB 104 would refund the sales tax paid on inputs used to build wind farms. Lathrop has stated that Nebraska has great capacity for wind energy, but lags behind in development.
The wind farm planned for the northeast part of the state would create up to 300 construction jobs with 20-to-25 permanent jobs. It is a 40-year project expected to pay $10,000 to $15,000 per tower to farmers in leases and between $700,000 and $800,000 in tax revenue for Dixon County.