Wind Energy Is Important to Rural Nebraska

Mark Hefflinger
News

NOTE: This posting originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Grand Island Independent on 11/24/13.  A day later, a more in-depth article appeared in the Midwest Energy News and is available at this link: http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/11/25/is-this-man-slowing-wind-development-in-nebraska/

At last week’s Nebraska Wind Conference, in response to statements made by Sen. Ken Haar (see this link or watch video below), Nebraska Generation and Transmission’s General Manager Bruce Pontow stated that his organization does not oppose wind and other forms of renewable energy (See this link or watch video below). Why then in the past year has Mr. Pontow stood up at NPPD board meetings and opposed more investment in low-cost wind, a compressed-air storage facility, increased energy efficiency, and a solar irrigation pilot project?

Nebraska Public Power District’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan showed that the least-cost path forward would include reaching 15% wind generation by 2020 and increasing the energy efficiency budget from $2.5 million to $10 million by 2020.  Yet, when it came to a vote, NPPD chose not to lock in historically low (and cheaper than new coal) wind prices for the next 20 years.

A new report by Baird-Holm law firm indicates that commercial wind development in rural Nebraska counties could increase property tax revenues in those counties by approximately 39%.  The report shows that a wind project in Holt County distributed 72% of those increased revenues to the school district, a direct investment in our children and our future.

For the last 10 years, polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of Nebraskan customer-owners of our public power system want more wind and renewable energy.  We want economic development so we can grow our rural communities, grow our local tax base, grow the number of good-paying jobs available, and stop the dead-end practice of outsourcing our energy and sending our money to coal mine owners in Wyoming.

Wind will help us keep our rural communities alive and flourishing.

Mr. Pontow is a roadblock to the future most of the owners of our public power system want.  He certainly does not represent me or the majority of the owners of our public power system.


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