Wind Energy in Nebraska
Wind energy is a growing industry in Nebraska. Nebraska ranks sixth in the United States for wind energy potential. It has 180% the wind potential of Germany, which until 2008 was the world's leading wind energy producer, and contains more wind potential than 38 other states combined: an estimated 868 million megawatts per year.
Despite these rich resources, Nebraska ranks just 19th in the nation for wind energy production. As of December 2006, it produced roughly 73 megawatts of power from wind, primarily from a 36 turbine wind farm located south of Ainsworth and owned by the Nebraska Public Power District.
Nebraska is the only state in the union with publicly owned power companies, and this has created a barrier to wind development, as most federal tax incentives for installing wind farms are available only to private companies.
Fortunately, however, Governor Dave Heineman has been extremely supportive of wind energy development and has worked on a number of initiatives to pave the way for public power companies to utilize privately generated wind energy, and other measures.
Wind Energy for Farmers
Wind Energy Books
Heineman has been especially supportive of locally owned wind projects
such as community-based (C-BED) wind farms and wind turbines on agricultural
land. C-BED wind farms create an average of 2.6 times more local jobs than projects funded by outside investors. In states such as Minnesota, farmers have found great benefits in
installing small wind systems, leasing their land to wind farms, or joining community wind cooperatives.
As a result of these policies, Nebraska's wind industry is seeing steady growth. In addition to wind farms, Nebraska is now home to Katana Summit LLC, a wind turbine manufacturer with a large plant located near Columbus, and Northstar Wind Towers, a startup company based in Blair that claims to have designed a modular wind tower that could safely support turbines at higher heights than is currently possible. Taller turbines could greatly increase wind potential in many areas. Northstar hopes to build a $30 million manufacturing plant for its towers.
In addition to bringing more jobs to Nebraska, Heineman believes wind power could offer a $7 billion economic boon to the state.
Hopes are especially high that wind energy could offer economic revitalization for rural counties, where wind resources are typically best. Nebraska's ten windiest counties have an average income 21% lower than the state average, and their populations have been in steady decline for decades. Wind energy could help reverse these trends.
Student Documentary on Wind Energy in Nebraska
Learn More About Wind in Nebraska
- Wind energy in Nebraska
An article by a former member of the Nebraska Wind Energy Task Force
- Nebraska Wind Energy Task Force Report (PDF)
A report on Nebraska wind development potential
- Nebraska Energy Office: Wind Energy Resources
A list of resources for renewable energy in Nebraska
- Nebraska Renewable Energy Association - Wind
Wind energy is the fastest growing power technology in the world. Nebraska is ranked sixth in the nation for largest wind energy potential, and is one of four states with land most suitable for wind energy development.
- Wind Powering America: Nebraska Wind Activities
This Web page summarizes Wind Powering America activities in Nebraska, which include a wind working group, anemometer loan program, wind maps, a small wind consumer's guide, and state workshops.
- Small Wind in Nebraska
Small Wind Systems in Nebraska