An agreement announced Monday will pave the way for construction of Nebraska’s largest wind farm near Bloomfield.
The Nebraska Public Power District signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Midwest Wind Energy and its affiliate, Elkhorn Ridge Wind.
The 80-megawatt Elkhorn Ridge wind energy project, to be built by the end of 2008, is expected to generate enough electricity annually to power about 25,000 Nebraska homes.
The $140 million project is a result of NPPD’s request for proposals in July for wind projects up to 100 megawatts. The request yielded 10 proposals from seven developers that NPPD eventually pared to three projects for further negotiations.
Under terms of the agreement, Elkhorn Ridge Wind will own and operate the facility, and NPPD will purchase the output.
“This project demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to provide reliable, renewable energy to Nebraska’s customers,” said Mike Donahue, spokesman for Elkhorn Ridge and executive vice president of Midwest Wind Energy, the Chicago company that submitted the proposal on behalf of Elkhorn Ridge Wind.
The project is structured to comply with Nebraska’s Rural Community-Based Energy Development Act, which requires that not less than 33 percent of the power purchase agreement payments over the 20-year agreement go to Nebraska owners.
The Elkhorn Ridge power purchase agreement between NPPD and the private developer is the first of its kind in Nebraska.
But NPPD president and CEO Ron Asche said the utility is close to completing a contract with another private wind energy developer for a 40-megawatt facility that will share a substation with the Elkhorn Ridge wind.
That project will also be near Bloomfield.
According to Midwest Wind Energy, the Elkhorn Ridge project will cost $140 million, generate more than $5.7 million in personal property taxes to local governments over five years and pay more than $325,000 annually in lease payments to landowners.
Also, about 15 percent of the total project cost, or $21 million, will be invested in Nebraska for material and services needed to construct the project.
More than 100 full-time construction jobs will be created during the nine-month construction period and six permanent jobs to operate and maintain the facility.
NPPD is working toward agreements with other public utilities to share the electric output of the wind-generation projects. Discussions are under way with Omaha Public Power District, Lincoln Electric System, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska and Grand Island Utilities.
17 March 2008
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