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Nebraska ranks 6th in the United States in terms of its wind resource, but only 24th in terms of actual wind power output. Many are waiting for long distance transmission to take the power to larger markets, but this will also take the benefits out-of-state. But there are ways to keep more economic benefit in Nebraska according to David Freund, President of Jupiter Renewables.
Wind power can be a powerful tool for economic development in Nebraska as high tech companies like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook look to continue building data centers. The main criterion for siting these centers is cheap power, ideally with a strong renewable component. For example, Google has recently sited a center in Council Bluff, Iowa. Wind farms currently provide 18% of Google’s power in Iowa. In contrast, Nebraska’s largest Power supplier, the Nebraska Public Power District, currently receives 1.5% of its energy from wind farms.
There are three main reasons that Nebraska has not yet built more wind:
The Guaranteed Windpower plan by Jupiter Renewables changes this dynamic by delivering wind power in Nebraska at wholesale rates that are close to or lower than the market price of power from conventional sources. This is because this system combines the best of Public Power (tax exempt debt) with the best of the private sector (access to the federal tax benefits). The decreased price will spur energy demand from data centers. Since Nebraska would be building renewable plants to meet the needs of new customers, ones that may not otherwise come to Nebraska, the wind plants only bring positive value – cheap renewable energy, good paying jobs, and rural development.
With Guaranteed Windpower, high quality guarantees support the tax exempt debt for up to ten years allowing Public Power to use its credit for other purposes like upgrading current plants.
Nebraska has recognized this opportunity. The Department of Economic Development is working with over 20 sites and has a shovel ready initiative focused on South Sioux City, Aurora, Kearney, and Fremont. Cheap wind power will be a great help in successfully marketing these sites.
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