4-Year Wind Study Confirms Pioneer Adage

Native Nebraskans could have told the scientists it wasn't necessary. Nebraskans for generations have known the winds on the Plains were powerful. Now, wind speed monitors have confirmed what locals already knew: it's windy enough on the Plains to produce lots and lots of electrical power.

At the end of the study, Springview and Valentine in north central Nebraska claimed the title as the best prospects for wind-to-electricity generators. The least windy spots studied were Winnebago in northeast Nebraska and Wahoo, near Lincoln.

Four Year Average Wind Speeds in Miles Per Hour

at 40 Meters Height at Selected Locations

Source:  Global Energy Concepts

For four years, eight sites across the state were monitored, season-in and season-out, 24 hours a day. Monitoring equipment was even placed at different heights in the same location. The goal at each site was the same: to find out where and when wind speeds in the state were the greatest and consistent.

In fact, according to Global Energy Concepts, which performed the study, all the Nebraska locations have sufficient wind resources for a large wind farm capable of generating 10 megawatts or larger. The annual average wind speeds ranged from 14.4 to 16.4 miles an hour.

Slow Speed, Greatest Need

Seasonally, spring and fall produced the strongest, consistent wind speeds. The slowest winds were recorded in July and August during summer's peak, when the electricity need is usually the greatest.

The wind study cost $336,000 and was paid for by a $74,428 grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a $59,600 from the Utility Wind Interest Group, a $10,000 grant from the American Public Power Association and the balance from major utilities including Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska Public Power District, Lincoln Electric System, Nebraska Municipal Power Pool, Southern Nebraska Rural Public Power District, Loup River Public Power District, Niobrara Valley Electric Member Corp., Nebraska Electric G&T Coop, Inc., Wayne County Public Power District, Norris Public Power District, Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and Tri-State G&T Association, Inc.

A copy of the complete wind study is available at the Nebraska Energy Office's web site, www.nol.org/home/NEO/wind/

Four turbines _ two in Springview and two near Lincoln _ are generating electricity in the state. However, much larger wind turbine projects are operating or under construction in Minnesota, Iowa, Wyoming and Colorado. By 2009, Texas plans on producing 2,000 megawatts of electricity from turbines.

According to the federal energy department, about 1,000 megawatts of wind-to-electricity was constructed last year, making windpower the fastest growing renewable energy resource in America.

 Return to the Fall 1999 Newsletter