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NPPD gets 7 proposals for wind generation projects

Seven proposals for wind-powered generation projects are in the initial stages of review by the Nebraska Public Power District.

In mid-July, NPPD invited developers interested in building and operating more wind-powered generation in Nebraska to submit proposals by Aug. 20.

NPPD said it will evaluate the projects and make a recommendation to its board of directors. The projects could add 100 megawatts of wind power to the utility’s existing nuclear, coal, wind, water, diesel and natural gas facilities.

“Including renewable energy assets in our generation resource mix for our electric customers is important to NPPD’s operations. It will help us continue to provide power from diverse fuel sources,” NPPD president and CEO Ron Asche said in a news release.

Asche noted that adding more wind-powered generation will help NPPD achieve its goals for supplying a greater portion of its customers’ energy needs from renewable generation resources.

“At the same time, the addition of new wind-powered generation and related transmission facilities can collectively increase rates, so we want to make sure we select the project(s) that will have the least cost impact to our customers,” Asche said.

Private developers, including Community-Based Energy Development groups, were among those entities that submitted proposals, according to the Columbus-based utility.

NPPD hopes to have a project or projects operational by Dec. 31, 2008. NPPD would negotiate an agreement to buy electricity from the proposed facility or facilities over 20 years.

In a related matter, NPPD is starting to acquire land rights to study wind speeds and wind availability in areas throughout the state.

The utility is securing agreements with landowners near Verdigre and is talking with landowners near Elgin.

Land rights at additional sites are expected to be acquired for wind study purposes, NPPD said.

Information gathered will help NPPD develop additional wind-powered generation beyond the project or projects that may be selected out of the current proposals.

“This is a two-fold approach,” explained Dave Rich, NPPD renewable energy manager. “We will develop more wind-powered generation in cooperation with another developer in the near-term through the RFP (Request For Proposal) process, but NPPD also has longer-term goals of incorporating more wind-powered generation into our portfolio down the road.”

The wind study involves obtaining land options from landowners and, if they are interested, installing temporary wind monitoring stations to gather wind speed data for one year.

The stations will be put in spots that do not conflict with existing pivots or structures. If the area or areas studied meet NPPD’s criteria for wind speed and community support, future wind facilities could be developed by NPPD, a Community-Based Energy Development or other private developer.

NPPD owns and operates the Ainsworth Wind Energy Facility, the state’s largest wind generation site, south of Ainsworth. Thirty-six turbines on the site are capable of generating 60 megawatts of electricity.

Lincoln Journal Star

24 August 2007