Blowing in the
More than Coal or Natural Gas
Development of Nebraska's Wind Resources Gains Speed
In the past six months, a number of developments have emerged in the state that indicate an important resource - wind - is being given a second look.
In February, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report, Strong Winds: Opportunities for Rural Economic Development Blow Across Nebraska, which found supplying ten percent of the state's electricity with wind power by 2012 would create 360 more jobs, $8 million in more income and $35 million more in state gross product than producing the same amount of electricity from coal and natural gas generation.
The study also projected the net benefits to the state's economy would exceed the additional cost of developing wind power by nearly $15 million a year over a 20-year period. About 2.4 times more jobs during construction and 1.5 times more jobs from on-going operation and maintenance would be created than from coal and natural gas plants.
The report stated wind power could be an important source of rural economic development in Nebraska as well. Assuming $2,000 a year for each wind turbine installed on farm land, the study projected farmers and landowners could receive $2.2 million in lease payments by 2012, if wind turbine targets are met. If private developers owned half the projects, an additional $5.2 million in property tax revenues would be generated by 2012.
The authors of the study suggested the benefits from wind power would be most likely to accrue to parts of the state that are in greatest economic need. Median income levels in Nebraska's ten windiest counties are, on average, 21 percent below the state average, and poverty rates are higher than the state average in all but one of the windiest counties.
And the Answers Are
Last fall at a gathering of wind energy enthusiasts, Governor Johanns asked them to find answers to a series of questions on the potential for wind-generated electricity production in the state and the prospects for exporting that power. In March, a group of wind enthusiasts completed their effort to answer the governor's questions.
In general, the group, which authored Windpower in Nebraska: A Report to Governor Johanns, found both opportunities and barriers, but concluded more work needed to be done.
In turn, Governor Johanns asked the Nebraska Power Association to develop a plan for how the state could develop wind resources with the utilities' cooperation. That plan is expected to be completed before the end of the summer.
More Turbines on the Horizon?
Meanwhile the construction of new turbines within the state and in surrounding states continued to grow:
More than Coal or Natural Gas
For More Information
The report, Strong Winds: Opportunities for Rural Economic Development Blow Across Nebraska, can be obtained at www.ucsusa.org/energy/strongwinds.pdf
The report, Windpower in Nebraska: A Report to Governor Johanns, can be found at www.nol.org/home/NEO/windrept.pdf
Return to the Spring 2001 Newsletter