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Loup planning 3 more turbines at Creston Ridge

COLUMBUS – Loup Public Power District approved a proposal from Bluestem Energy Solutions to construct an additional three 2.3-megawatt wind turbines near the current Creston Ridge Wind Farm at its board meeting Tuesday morning.

The exact location of the additional turbines has not been determined, but now that Omaha-based Bluestem has Loup’s approval, it will initiate negotiations with landowners around the current site near Creston.

The fourth and final tower for the current project is under construction and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Dec. 3.

Loup Public Power President and CEO Neal Suess will submit the new proposal to the Platte County Board of Supervisors next week.

Because of some controversy surrounding the current project, Suess said he plans on conducting some open house meetings in the Creston and Humphrey areas. Dates have not been set, but Suess estimates they will be held sometime in January and February.

Suess anticipates the additional towers will be up by fall of 2016.

The board also approved the final language on its contracts to purchase electricity from Nebraska Public Power District and sell power generated by the hydro system to NPPD.

State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm gave a presentation to the board on the benefits and costs of the Clean Power Plan. The presentation was in response to a petition from the Nebraska Rural Electric Association – Loup is not a member – against the Clean Power Plan on the basis of increased power costs.

Haar argued that public power companies need to be better informed and inform their customers about the benefits of the plan, as well as the costs.

“We’ve got to be honest,” he said.

In the upcoming legislative session, Haar hopes to arrange presentations for power districts from experts on the benefits and costs of the Clean Power Plan. He also plans to form a committee to put together a climate action plan for the state.

Suess and the rates committee presented Loup’s rankings for 2014 rates in Nebraska and across the U.S. as tabulated by the American Public Power Association.

In Nebraska, Loup ranked 26th lowest in rate costs out of 80 providers for residential customers, 35th lowest for commercial, 10th lowest out of 75 power providers for industrial rates, and 11th lowest out of 157 providers overall. Loup’s residential and overall rates are 8.7 percent and 12.5 percent below the state average, respectively.

Nationally, Loup ranked 337th lowest out of 1,948 providers for residential rates, 519th lowest out of 1,939 providers for commercial rates, 303rd out of 1,616 providers for industrial rates, and 285th lowest out of 3,083 providers for overall rates. Loup’s residential and overall rates are 24 percent and 26 percent below the national average, respectively.