Nebraska getting into wind farming in a big way

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nebraska has been slow getting out of the starting blocks, but we're getting into the wind farm race in a big way.

The Nebraska Public Power District announced it received 18 proposals from nine developers by Wednesday's deadline, to build 80 megawatts of wind power on sites near Broken Bow and Petersburg.

After reviewing the proposals, the NPPD board of directors will be asked to approve one or more power purchase agreements later this year.

NPPD already has agreements in place for an 80-megawatt wind farm near Bloomfield that went into operation last month, and a 42-megawatt wind farm near Crofton.

But there's even bigger news from the Panhandle, where Midwest Wind Energy says it's going to build a wind farm that will dwarf NPPD's units.

Covering up to 100,000 acres, the Chicago-based energy developer's new wind farm will have 600 to 800 turbines generating 2,000 megawatts -- 2 gigawatts? -- or enough to power up to 600,000 typical American homes for one day.

Midwest Vice President Mike Donahue said the project, in Banner County, is designed to promote construction of a power grid capable of carrying away the electricity it produces -- something Nebraska officials say has been hold winding farms back.

Nebraska has always been closely connected to agriculture, but who would have dreamed that growing electricity from wind would some day be one of our major farming industries.

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