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Nebraska to add another wind farm  

Nebraska Public Power District and Crofton Hills Wind Farm announced Thursday that they have signed a 20-year power purchase agreement that will result in the construction of a second wind farm between Bloomfield and Crofton.

The 42-megawatt Crofton Hills Wind Farm, to be located south of Crofton, will become operational in 2009 and is expected to annually produce enough energy to supply an amount of electricity equal to that consumed by approximately 13,000 Nebraska residences in a year. The project is a direct result of NPPD’s efforts to expand participation in wind development by issuing a request for proposals last July for wind projects up to 100 megawatts in size.

That request yielded 10 proposals from seven different developers that NPPD eventually pared to three projects for further negotiations. The Crofton Hills Wind Farm is the second project of its type to reach a successful agreement with NPPD. Under terms of the agreement, Community Wind Energy Transmission (CWET), LLC, will operate and manage the facility, and NPPD will purchase the output. The final negotiated price is proprietary, but compares favorably with the cost of NPPD owning and operating such a project and with energy prices in the open market.

As it has with its 60-megawatt Ainsworth Wind Energy Facility, NPPD will be working towards partnering agreements with Omaha Public Power District, Lincoln Electric System, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, and Grand Island Utilities for shares of the electric output of the Crofton Hills project.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union that led the coalition of organizations in support of the Community Based Energy Development (C-BED) legislation, said, “We applaud the Crofton area landowners, Knox County public officials, NPPD Board of Directors and management, the Cedar-Knox County Rural Electric, the Legislature, Governor Heineman, and all the organizations involved in the landmark C-BED legislation and the C-BED projects that have been developed so far. Nebraskans worked together to fashion a unique wind development approach that will help our public power state develop our enormous wind resources in the most economically beneficial way, while enhancing the benefits of our unique public power state. This is collaboration at its best.”

Gale Lush, chairman of the American Corn Growers Foundation (ACGF), the organization that contracted with C-BED wind farm pioneer Dan Juhl to develop this project, stated, “This locally-owned wind farm model offers Nebraska farmers and landowners the economic structure to deliver another form of competitive, sustainable, renewable energy to Nebraska consumers, without depleting our precious water resources and without using fossil fuels for power generation. This benefits public power, our environment, and our rural communities.”

According to NPPD president and CEO Ron Asche, the power purchase agreement between NPPD and CWET is the second of its kind in Nebraska. The first was the previously announced 80-megawatt Elkhorn Ridge wind project, also north of Bloomfield.

“This community-based project will be a rural economic development engine for the Crofton area, for the Knox County tax base and for the Nebraska economy. We are grateful to Juhl Energy Development, Inc., of Woodstock, Minn., whose expertise and industry leadership led us to this success. We acknowledge the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for their support of our community-based wind energy development work and the benefit it provides to rural America,” said ACGF Chief Executive Dan McGuire.

Crofton Hills Wind Farm will provide clean, renewable energy, and will provide an economic boost in rural Knox County. The project will cost approximately $69 million and will generate more than $3.2 million in personal property taxes to local governments over a five-year period. During the construction period approximately 50 individuals will be performing work, with the facility expected to have four permanent employees when operational. The Crofton Hills Wind Farm is projected to generate over $300,000 in annual revenue related to land leases and revenues to project owners.

“I am so pleased to have the opportunity to bring the rural economic development benefits of the C-BED wind development model we have used so effectively in Minnesota to Nebraska,” said Project Developer Dan Juhl. “I believe this model is a perfect fit with the Nebraska public power system. It harnesses the private sector wind energy incentives to put public power on a level playing field with private sector based states while maximizing the rural economic development benefits of wind energy development.”

Ownership in the facility is structured according to the Nebraska Rural Community Based Energy Development Act with all landowners where wind turbines are being sited offered an ownership option. The act requires that at least 33 percent of the power purchase agreement payments over the 20-year agreement flow to Nebraska residents.

By Robert Pore

The Grand Island Independent

24 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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