Nebraska’s New wind farm to help OPPD reach energy goal

Source: Erin Golden • World-Herald • Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011

Nebraska’s newest wind farm is set to make its official debut Monday, with the help of appearances by Gov. Dave Heineman and Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy.

Power generated by the 27-turbine, 40.5-megawatt project near Petersburg, about 140 miles northwest of Omaha, will be purchased by the Omaha Public Power District for the next 20 years. It will generate enough electricity each year to power about 12,000 homes.

That energy will go a long way toward the district’s goal of having 10 percent of the power it sells coming from renewable or sustainable energy sources by 2020, said spokesman Mike Jones. OPPD already buys power from the Flat Water Wind Farm in Richardson County, which went up last year.

Another Petersburg-area wind farm, with a capacity of 80 megawatts, began operating late last year. That facility was developed by Midwest Wind Energy, Edison Mission and the Nebraska Public Power District.

With the addition of the new turbines in Petersburg, OPPD will be at 155 megawatts of power from renewable sources, which is just over 40 percent of the way toward its goal.

The wind farm is a Community-Based Energy Development project — part of a program approved by the Nebraska Legislature in 2007 to boost wind energy growth in the state. A third of the revenue payments for the farm will go to individuals and organizations that have invested in the C-BED project.

The $100 million project was built by Third Planet Windpower, a company with offices in Florida, California and Vermont. Construction began in April and wrapped up last week, with the first turbines generating power Oct. 17. The entire project is expected to be operational beginning Tuesday, Third Planet said.

During construction, an average of 150 workers were involved in the project, with a peak of more than 225. The wind farm will require five to seven permanent employees.

Jones said OPPD is always looking for opportunities to buy energy from renewable sources.

The district has approved an agreement to buy power from a wind farm going up near Broken Bow, Neb. That project, still in the works, will generate 18 megawatts of electricity for the district each year.

Jones said the district was glad to see the Petersburg wind farm go up on schedule and pleased with the progress toward the 10 percent goal, overall.

“We feel we’re ahead of schedule, so we feel good about that,” he said.