COLUMBUS – Loup Public Power District’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday against moving forward with an agreement to purchase power from a proposed wind farm.
Omaha-based Bluestem Energy Solutions had been working with landowners in the Creston and Humphrey areas to secure lease agreements that would determine where wind turbines would be installed by mid- to late 2015. Bluestem originally pitched a proposal to Loup Public Power in February, offering the local utility a 25-year contract to purchase electricity from the wind farm and potentially lower customers’ rates.
Loup officials hoped the wind energy could eventually bring customers a cheaper rate. But after Tuesday’s vote, unless Bluestem comes back with a lower price, what seemed like a promising idea could be gone with the wind.
Neal Suess, president and CEO of Loup Public Power, said he didn’t expect the votes to go the way they did.
“It surprised me a little bit, but they (the board) were very uncomfortable with the pricing so they decided to not move forward,” Suess said.
After discussing the overall cost in an executive session, the board felt the escalating price that would occur over the 25-year contract was too high.
“I know there were a number of folks here that were excited about the possibility, from an operational standpoint, but when it came right down to it the pricing just wasn’t along the lines that they felt comfortable with,” Suess said.
Loup will continue to purchase all the electricity needed to serve its customers from Nebraska Public Power District.
“I’m unsure of the next step, we’ll just have to see and go from there,” Suess said.
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