Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District will continue to move forward with its established goal of generating 10 percent of its energy resources with new renewable energy, primarily wind, by 2020. A proposed resolution to purchase up to 200 additional megawatts of wind energy by the end of the year was rejected by the Board, with three votes in favor and six opposed.
“I do not believe this vote is a referendum on wind. This is an issue of resource planning. This does not mean that NPPD will not seek power from wind farms in the future. We just will not be pursuing additional wind generation by the end of this year,” said CEO and President Pat Pope. “A goal has been established by the Board, and we will continue to work towards meeting that goal.”
At the end of 2014, NPPD will only be 45 megawatts short of reaching its strategic goal the Board established in February 2008.
“Our existing generation facilities currently can produce more energy than our customers require,” Pope explained, “and while we can sell some of our excess energy into the wholesale market, there are limitations and risks associated with that. It is important we utilize dispatchable generation in order to maintain the reliability of electric service Nebraskans expect.
Pope added, “We have to remember, wind does not always blow in Nebraska, and thus we need to keep available the generation facilities that can provide electricity when needed. Until technology provides a means of storing electricity, we cannot rely on wind energy to serve our customers.”
Since 2008, NPPD has brought 433 megawatts of generation into Nebraska for its customers and those of other public power utilities. Including its Ainsworth wind farm, constructed in 2005, NPPD will have 312 megawatts of wind generation on its system by the end of 2014, and based upon current load demands, expects to have a total of 357 megawatts by the end of 2014 with two, new wind farms either under construction or planned. The 75-megawatt Steele Flats Wind Farm near Steele City is expected to be in service this November, and the 75-megawatt Broken Bow II wind farm northeast of Broken Bow is anticipated to be in operation in late 2014.
The vote followed several months of discussion by the Board of Directors about adding more wind generation after numerous unsolicited proposals by wind developers were submitted, indicating pricing for such projects had dropped significantly. Developer proposals included federal production tax credits, set to expire at the end of 2013, unless Congress extends the law. Tax credits are one of the drivers in reducing prices, along with the sales tax credit incentive approved by the Nebraska legislature in 2013.
Approximately 40 percent of NPPD’s generation is produced by non-carbon emitting resources.