Northeast Nebraska is going to be the home of another wind farm in the months ahead.
At its monthly meeting in Omaha on Thursday, the Omaha Public Power District board of directors announced plans for a 160-megawatt wind farm in Wayne County.
Called the Sholes Wind Energy Center, the wind farm will generally be located in northern Wayne County near the small village of Sholes, which is south of Randolph.
The utility company has contracted with a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources to build the wind farm. Construction is slated to begin in March 2019 and should be operation by December of that year.
OPPD officials said the utility company will purchase all of the farm’s electricity under a 20-year agreement.
With the addition of the new wind facility, OPPD President Tim Burke said the company now is projected to provide approximately 40 percent of its generation from renewable energy sources as soon as the facility becomes operational. That’s up from 20 percent in 2016.
The Sholes Wind Energy Center in Wayne County will mark OPPD’s first contract with NextEra, which is also working on a 90-megawatt project in Webster County in southern Nebraska.
“We’re not only diversifying our wind generation across the region but diversifying across different developers, as well,” Burke said.
Late last year, OPPD started getting electricity from the 400-megawatt Grande Prairie wind farm in Holt County. That project is owned by Des Moines-based BHE Renewables, a MidAmerican Energy subsidiary, and was the largest wind farm built in the U.S. in 2016.
Burke said the latest wind energy agreement aligns with the district’s Integrated Resource Plan, and demonstrates OPPD’s continued commitment to policies relating to resource planning and environmental stewardship.
The Omaha electric utility plans to make another wind energy addition this year as it seeks to replace a portion of the capacity lost when it shut down the nuclear plant at Fort Calhoun last year.
Some directors and groups representing ratepayers voiced their desire Thursday to add even more renewable generation. They included a coalition of sustainability managers and professors from local colleges, including the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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Editor’s note: The World-Herald News Service contributed to this article.
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