Wind power will generate 40 percent of OPPD’s electricity by end of 2019

Source: By Cole Epley, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017

A new wind farm in Wayne County will boost wind power to about 40 percent of the Omaha Public Power District’s electricity generation by the end of 2019.

That’s up from less than 20 percent in 2016.

OPPD President and Chief Executive Tim Burke said Thursday during the utility’s monthly board of directors meeting that Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources will build a 160-megawatt wind farm, from which OPPD will purchase the electricity generated.

The project will boost the utility’s total renewable generation to more than 1,000 megawatts, which includes hydropower OPPD purchases from the Western Area Power Administration and landfill gas it extracts from the Douglas County landfill.

Renewables made up about 400 megawatts of OPPD’s generation power last year.

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.

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.