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Wind Energy in Nebraska

Updated on May 12, 2009

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.

Nebraska's wind resources. Source: http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/
Nebraska's wind resources. Source: http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/

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

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    • omaharealestatene profile image

      omaharealestatene 6 years ago from Omaha, NE

      Great Hub... I live in Nebraska and see it all of the time!

    • profile image

      anemometer 8 years ago

      Great Hub. I think the wind energy developement is very interesting.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Kerry, Brownlee (current population close to zero) is around 30 miles on Rte 83 north of Thedford and 60 miles south of Valentine. It's about nine miles west of Rte 83. If memory serves this puts it 50 or so miles south of the Refuge. My mother taught grades 1-8 in the one-room school house at Beaver Lake, as I recall. Around 1930.

    • profile image

      The Sandman 9 years ago

      Very good Hub and very vital information, I am so glad to hear about States and places doing their best to use renewable resources

    • maanju profile image

      maanju 9 years ago from India

      GREAT AND GOOD HUB

    • kerryg profile image
      Author

      kerryg 9 years ago from USA

      Brownlee's up by the refuge, isn't it? If so, lucky them. We pass through there fairly often on our way to the Black Hills (we go Highway 2, because I feel like shooting myself spending that long on I-80) and that is a truly gorgeous area.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      It's beautiful country. My maternal grandparents homesteaded there over 100 years ago. Their ranch (now owned by my cousin) is north of Thedford and about 6 miles west of Brownlee. Someday I may write a short story or two about my summer adventures there.

    • kerryg profile image
      Author

      kerryg 9 years ago from USA

      Ralph, I love the Sandhills. When Hubpages makes me rich, I'm going to go buy a ranch out there and run buffalo and wind turbines. :)

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Correction: WEST of Ainsworth.

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 9 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Kansas, my home state, has got to be similar. Kansas, where the wind comes roaring down the plains.... Oh sorry, I guess that is Oklahoma.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Nice hub! When I was a kid I spent my summers in northwestern Nebraska, in the Sand Hills south of Valentine and east of Ainsworth where the wind watered the cattle and the people and lighted the houses. The video brought back good memories for me.

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