Wind in the News: Nebraska should ‘get on board’ with wind power, lawmakers say

From the Lincoln Journal-Star, January 16, 2015
By Zach Pluhacek

Surrounding states continue to outpace Nebraska in their production and promotion of wind power and other renewable energy sources, a group of state lawmakers said Friday.

Five senators plan to introduce bills providing tax incentives and encouraging the state to better market its wind resources.

Nebraska is “already behind the curve” compared with other states, said Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm. “We just need to get on board.”

One bill, by Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, would provide a production tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour for renewable power. A federal credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour expired in December.

Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, chairman of the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee, will propose legislation that would direct the Nebraska Energy Office to identify potential customers for wind energy produced in Nebraska.

And Sen. Al Davis of Hyannis will introduce a bill to extend the state’s nameplate capacity tax — now limited to wind — to projects using other forms of renewable energy, such as solar.

Haar and Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha are introducing bills to streamline the approval process for renewable energy projects.

Nebraska’s existing transmission infrastructure could handle at least 2,000 megawatts of additional wind energy capacity, according to a study conducted last year by the Nebraska Power Review Board at the request of the Legislature.

“Let’s double down on wind and get something done,” Davis said.