Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) will not add more wind power to its generation mix this year after a proposed resolution to purchase up to 200 MW of additional wind was rejected by its board.
According to the utility, the vote followed several months of discussion after wind developers submitted numerous unsolicited proposals. NPPD says it will continue to move forward with its established goal of generating 10% of its resources with new renewable energy, primarily wind, by 2020. Including its Ainsworth wind farm, constructed in 2005, NPPD notes it will have 312 MW of wind generation on its system by the end of 2014.
‘I do not believe this vote is a referendum on wind. This is an issue of resource planning. This does not mean that NPPD will not seek power from wind farms in the future. We just will not be pursuing additional wind generation by the end of this year,’ says NPPD CEO and President Pat Pope.
"Our existing generation facilities currently can produce more energy than our customers require," Pope explains, "and while we can sell some of our excess energy into the wholesale market, there are limitations and risks associated with that. It is important we utilize dispatchable generation in order to maintain the reliability of electric service Nebraskans expect.
‘We have to remember, wind does not always blow in Nebraska, and thus, we need to keep available the generation facilities that can provide electricity when needed,’ Pope adds. ‘Until technology provides a means of storing electricity, we cannot rely on wind energy to serve our customers.’
Although NPPD says the board decision does not mean the utility is abandoning wind power altogether, there has been some backlash against the company.
The Sierra Club, for instance, has issued a press release saying the vote "blows [the] opportunity to invest in wind energy and spur rural economic development."
"Nebraskan wind is a valuable resource, and it is time for our public power districts to get us in the game," said Ken Winston of the Nebraska Sierra Club. "If our public power districts continue to rely on coal and conventional electricity generation, it may erode Nebraska's 21st-century competitive advantage. Clean air and clean jobs are a winning combination here in Nebraska, and investments in wind and energy efficiency will get us there."