Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) board on Friday voted 6-3 against a proposal to purchase more wind energy for Nebraska, which currently derives the lion’s share of its power from burning coal. Statements from Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Sierra Club policy advocate Ken Winston, NPPD District 11 Director Fred Christensen, and Nebraska Farmers Union president John Hansen.
“The NPPD vote to say ‘no’ to wind is not only disappointing, it’s confusing,” said Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska. “NPPD held open houses telling citizens and landowners they need to build new transmission lines to support more wind and renewable energy projects. The only good news on the ‘no’ wind vote is citizens get to vote ‘yes’ for new NPPD candidates in 2014. Bold will work with citizen candidates who take Nebraskans seriously to diversify our energy portfolio by adding more clean and local energy while mobilizing voters to act not only in the streets but in the voting booth. We are tired of excuses, it’s time for new energy in our homes and on the NPPD board.”
—Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska
“The NPPD Board missed an opportunity to meet their legal obligation to provide electricity at the lowest reasonable cost by failing to take advantage of Nebraska’s world-class wind energy resources at a time when wind energy prices are at an all-time low,” said Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club policy advocate. “This decision won’t help rural Nebraskans who want jobs to keep their communities from declining. It doesn’t represent the interests of customer-owners who would benefit from having low rates from wind energy locked in for years to come. Instead of supporting the interests of their customer-owners, the board decided to continue to send millions of Nebraskans’ energy dollars to Wyoming to fuel coal plants rather than investing in local, clean, affordable wind energy. This is contrary to the purpose and intent of our public power system.”
—Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2013
NPPD District 11 Director Fred Christensen Extremely Disappointed with No Vote On Wind
Lyons, Nebraska — Today the NPPD Board of Directors voted 6-3 against purchasing more wind energy. District 11 Director and Burt County Farmer Fred Christensen, who represents the counties of Burt, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Thurston, Wayne, and parts of Washington County, was one of the three votes supporting expanding Nebraska’s wind energy development.
“I am extremely disappointed today in the NPPD Board’s vote against adding more wind energy at this time. We had an opportunity to lock in historically low electrical rates for the next 20 years with very little risk, and we chose to do the opposite. However as disappointing as this vote is I will continue to support and work for homegrown energy sources on behalf of my district,” said Director Fred Christensen.
Christensen said that all polls over the last decade, including NPPD’s own polls, show between 75-90% support level in Nebraska for wind energy. In District 11 Christensen said he has continually received support from constituents that want to develop their homegrown energy resources for various reasons. These reasons include establishing new tax revenues, local jobs, landowner payments, new local investment opportunities, local debt financing, and protection from rising fossil fuel costs.
“Our rural areas desperately need these new revenues created by local energy resources. As members of the public it is crucial that we continue to weigh in so Nebraska-based energy resources become a standard part of energy production for public power. In fact, public power was designed so that the people of Nebraska can create energy and reap the economic rewards in our home communities,” stated Director Christensen.
Despite the fact wind energy prices have been dropping, the price of wind energy will likely go up next year with the expiration of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) at the end of 2013. This means without a Renewable Energy Standard in place it more difficult for Nebraska communities to develop their wind resources.
“I just want to see our prized public power structure function up to its full-potential, while maintaining its credibility with our customer-owners. We missed an opportunity to lock in historically low rates for the next 20 years while harvesting our homegrown wind resource,” said Director Christensen.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2013
Contact: John K. Hansen (402) 476-8815
NeFU Says NPPD Missed Historic Opportunity To Lock Wind Energy Prices
Lincoln, NE — Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) says when the Nebraska Public Power District Board of Directors (NPPD) voted 6-3 against taking advantage of the opportunity to lock in low cost wind energy for the next 20 years at historically all-time low prices they missed a historic opportunity.
“NeFU recommended adding an additional 200 MWs of wind energy from rural Nebraska to help NPPD diversify its portfolio. NPPD currently has a wide range of excellent projects from competent wind developers in different locations across the state to choose from. Many of these wind projects are able to take advantage of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the first 10 years of the project which is scheduled to expire at year end. If Congress does not extend the PTC, many of these shovel ready projects may not survive. The PTC effectively cuts the price of wind energy in half. It appears that our dysfunctional Congress will not extend the PTC. The time to buy wind power is when it is at half price,” Hansen said.
“According to estimates from National Renewable Energy Laboratory studies, 200 MW’s of wind energy development considering the total direct, indirect, and induced impacts would provide between $173.6 million and $328 million for Nebraska depending on how much local content and ownership were involved. Nebraskans will miss this enormous economic development opportunity at a time when rural landowners and communities are hungry for these new revenue streams from new jobs and tax revenues,” said NeFU President John Hansen. “Harvesting Nebraska’s world class wind energy ranked the third best in the nation is a win-win for our economy and our environment.”
“Since wind energy does not emit any carbon or other emissions and does not use water, it is also a hedge against the costs of future regulations, which reduces both price and risk,” Hansen said.
“At the root of the problem faced by the NPPD Board is the blind opposition to wind energy development at any price by the Nebraska Generation and Transmission (NE G&T) and its General Manager Bruce Pontow who represents 23 Rural Electric Associations and Rural Cooperatives in energy supply contracts with NPPD. It is not the NE G& T’s responsibility or job to tell NPPD how they should generate their electrical power. That is the responsibility of the publicly elected NPPD Board of Directors set in statute by the Legislature. It is wrong for the NE G&T to turn a business and generation issue into a political issue,” Hansen said.
“We believe that Bruce Pontow is overreaching his proper role and responsibility. He is blocking NPPD from locking in low priced wind energy for the next 20 years, and causing our power costs to go up, not down. Purchasing wind today is a sound business decision. Bruce Pontow and the NE G&T need to focus on doing their job of delivering electricity to rural customers as efficiently as possible. In short, they need to stick to their own knitting. Wind energy is good for our rural economy, our environment, and our state as a whole,” Hansen said. “We need to move forwards, not backwards.”