Nebraska has a rich history with wind energy. Nebraskans have been pioneering wind energy since the late 1800s when homesteaders settled the rugged prairie landscape by harnessing the wind to pump water for their homes and livestock. Thousands of windmills still decorate the rolling hills of Nebraska's rangelands and stand in testimony to the legacy of wind energy in Nebraska.
Windmills and other agricultural innovations helped build thriving communities and a strong economy in Nebraska. These early pioneering efforts have now grown businesses in many communities throughout Nebraska, including Beatrice, Valley, Columbus, Alda, and many others.
Nebraskans are once again looking to harness the wind in order to revitalize our communities, protect our natural resources and build a better future for generations of Nebraskans to come. Nebraskans are looking to the state's wind energy potential and so too is the world. International companies such as Katana Summit in Columbus are fostering new employment opportunities and inspiring new generations to call Nebraska home.
Nebraskans are committed to clean energy and energy independence. In April, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 1048 without any opposition to encourage the development, ownership and operation of renewable energy facilities for exporting wind energy from Nebraska. The legislation preserves the benefits of Nebraska's unique public power system and the rights of private landowners.
Today, Nebraska has 73 operational wind turbines at five sites with a total capacity of 152 megawatts, enough to power about 46,500 homes. Two public power utilities, Nebraska Public Power District and Omaha Public Power District, have set goals to increase their use of renewable energy to 10 percent by 2020.
By 2014, Nebraska Public Power District plans to develop or purchase more than 260 Megawatts of wind energy. Nebraskans will have 80 Megawatts of this energy come online soon at Laredo Ridge near Petersburg and another 80 Megawatts in 2012 near Broken Bow. NPPD is seeking bids on an additional 100 Megawatts to be developed between 2012 and 2014.
Omaha Public Power District is planning to develop or purchase more than 100 Megawatts over the next couple of years. OPPD has agreed to purchase up to 40 Megawatts from the Petersburg wind farm. In the coming months, construction will begin in Richardson County on the 60 Megawatt Flatwater Wind Farm.
Wind energy has a bright future in Nebraska. These developments and future ones reflect Nebraska's commitment to clean energy, energy independence, rural economic development and the Good Life for all Nebraskans.