Wind energy bill may have final reading today in Nebraska Unicameral

Source: By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Nebraska Radio Network • Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A bill designed to encourage wind energy projects in Nebraska is advancing to the final round of debate in the Unicameral perhaps as soon as today. Senator Al Davis of Hyannis says the bill will help wind energy move forward in the state by lifting regulations that have stifled or stopped development.

“This is probably the most important piece of wind legislation that has come through the legislature,” Davis says. “It removes most of the regulatory barriers that have prevented wind development in the state. The companies are looking for locations. They want to go into a state where they can do business without a number of onerous regulations and rules that keep them out.”

Nebraska lags behind other states in wind development, according to Davis, and he says there’s more work to do to improve that development.

“Nebraska doesn’t have the transmission, we don’t have the location close to urban areas,” Davis says. “Iowa is able to sell some wind (-generated power) to Chicago. We’re farther away. This is going to make a tremendous difference.”

Davis says the legislation makes it possible for wind projects to be able to take advantage of the federal wind production tax credit or PTC.

“The federal production tax credit, which is for renewable energy, is phasing itself out over five years,” Davis says. “It’s at 2.9 cents per kilowatt now and it reduces by 20% a year. This is why we thought it was important to get this through now. These project could begin today and be eligible for that PTC.”

The bill could be up for final reading today and if not, would be up for final reading next Wednesday, the final day of the session.

The wind energy provisions were added to LB-824 on the floor after stalling in committee. A number of senators objected to the procedure used to include the provisions in the bill.

Nebraska trails nationally in wind power, generating 890 megawatts per year. Iowa has more wind energy with 6,200 megawatts of power and is second in the nation. Texas leads with over 17,000 megawatts.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton

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