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Wind power still on NPPD’s table  

Federal tax credits for wind development are set to expire at year’s end. “So right now we have a mad rush by a lot of developers who want to get agreements locked up before the end of year so they can qualify,’’ Pat Pope, Nebraska Public Power District president, said. But it would be unwise to speed development now, he said. “You have a lot of folks who are driven by the fact they have financial interests and either selling a wind farm or are going to profit from putting one in,’’ Pope said “I appreciate that, but I have to hold that in the balance against what our customers are being asked to pay for.’’

Credit:  By GREG WEES | Norfolk Daily News | November 27, 2013 | norfolkdailynews.com ~~

A recent vote by the Nebraska Public Power District’s board of directors doesn’t mean the utility is against development of wind energy, said Pat Pope, NPPD’s president.

“NPPD is not anti-wind. We will continue to add wind to our portfolio as it makes sense for our customers and as we transition to a less carbon-intensive generating portfolio,’’ Pope said Tuesday during a stop in Norfolk.

The board voted in October against negotiating contracts to buy up to 200 more megawatts of wind energy by year’s end. The 3-6 decision not to quicken the pace included a no vote from board member Virgil Froehlich of Norfolk.

Board members acted after hearing from representatives of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Third Planet Wind Power and a Norfolk city councilman – all advocating more wind energy.

“The visions or projections of some that would suggest we could transform to an all-wind power economy overnight are simply not realistic,’’ Pope said. “I was very concerned about the negativity that came out from certain sectors around why NPPD made that decision. There was a lot of thought put into it, and it wasn’t taken lightly.’’

The board in 2008 set a goal of having 10 percent of its energy come from wind by 2020. It’s now about 44 megawatts short of the goal of 357 megawatts, he said.

“You can see we’ve been pretty darn aggressive,’’ Pope said of a graph showing the yearly development.

Federal tax credits for wind development are set to expire at year’s end.

“So right now we have a mad rush by a lot of developers who want to get agreements locked up before the end of year so they can qualify,’’ he said.

But it would be unwise to speed development now, he said.

“You have a lot of folks who are driven by the fact they have financial interests and either selling a wind farm or are going to profit from putting one in,’’ Pope said “I appreciate that, but I have to hold that in the balance against what our customers are being asked to pay for.’’

Pope said it typically takes years before a transition to different fuel sources can be made.

“Utilities, including us, are loathe to close (coal plants) down now because our customers have made significant investment in those, and we are a long way from having those plants paid for or recouping that investment,’’ he said. “We are already flush with a tremendous amount of capacity our customers are having to pay for.’’

In a public power state like Nebraska, the utility has to look out for the interests of ratepayers, he said.

His biggest concern, he said, is the lack of significant load growth, and some contracts to supply other utilities are expiring, meaning the capacity will be coming back to NPPD.

“What I really wants us to do is get back to where we begin to make power supply decisions based on the best economic interests of our customers. Right now, we have seen policymakers inject themselves into that process, and I’m not sure it’s having the best outcomes,’’ he said.

Source:  By GREG WEES | Norfolk Daily News | November 27, 2013 | norfolkdailynews.com

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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