The Nebraska Public Power District Board has voted six-to-three against proposals to increase the district’s wind energy purchases. One of the three votes in support of wind energy came from board member Gary Thompson, of Beatrice.
“Certainly, we need the fossil generation but we can certainly add a lot more wind into our mix and be better situated to move into the future,” Thompson says.
He adds, NPPD set a goal several years ago of having ten-percent of its power generation come from renewable resources by 2020.
Thompson says the district is making faster-than-expected progress on that goal, helped in part by a wind energy project nearing completion in southern Gage and Jefferson Counties, which will provide power to NPPD through a Steele City Substation.
“With the addition of Steele Flats, we should be running close to 8 and a half percent,” he says. “To me, the goal of 10-percent by 2020 is something that is achieveable very quickly and we ought to go ahead and achieve that goal.”
Thompson says other proposed wind energy projects are being considered in the Beatrice, Fairbury and Saline County areas. Since NPPD isn’t building the wind generation projects, but simply buying the power they produce, he says the cost is very low.
Thompson says the expiration of a federal production tax credit for wind energy is removing the incentive for additional wind energy projects being developed.
He says he’s disappointed, because the time to undertake additional wind energy projects was prior to expiration of the credit. A year ago, the credit was extended for one more year. But he said with the impasse in Congress on budget matters and extending the debt limit, the chance of the credit being extended, in his words, is “almost non-existent.”
The vote, with two board members absent, was taken at a meeting in Columbus, Friday.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice