Broken Bow, LLC
Project Quick Facts:
Location: Custer County
Size: 80 Megawatts (enough electricity to
serve about 24,000 homes)
Turbines: 50 (GE 1.6 MW)
Owner: Edison Mission Energy
(Santa Ana, CA)
Power Purchaser: NPPD
A short drive outside of Broken Bow reveals a changing landscape - fifty wind turbines now dot the Custer County hillsides.
"This is a very exciting day for Broken Bow, for Custer County, and the state of Nebraska because we continue to move forward with wind energy development," says Governor Dave Heineman. "We've got great potential in the state."
The 80 megawatt wind farm will produce enough power for about 24,000 homes and is not developer Edison Mission Energy's first wind venture in Nebraska.
"Elkhorn and Laredo Ridge projects already, dedicating this one today and we're also completing our Crofton Bluffs project," says Edison Mission Energy President Pedro Pizarro. "So it's a big presence in Nebraska with 280 megawatts in total."
Officials say it will be a few weeks before Broken Bow is commercially operational, and Edison says they're already looking into developing a phase 2 there. But how and if that will even happen depends on some expiring federal tax credits.
"We have a price already set in agreement with NPPD and that price assumed an extension of the production tax credit," says Pizarro.
He says Edison develops other energy projects besides wind, and that they understand why some believe an extension is not necessary. But he says if it costs them more to develop a wind project, it may then cost their power purchasers more, and those purchasers will have to decide if the extra cost is worth it to their customers.
NPPD will be buying all the power generated from Broken Bow. NPPD CEO Pat Pope says the fate of the tax credits won't be the end of wind energy in Nebraska.
"Without those tax credits [the developer's] costs are going to change," says Pope. "Now, where that ultimately puts them economically as an alternative, we'll just have to wait and see."
Pope says the Broken Bow and Crofton Bluffs projects should provide an economic difference to Nebraskans as their power will push NPPD to having 5% of their total power provided by renewables. The NPPD board has a goal of 10% by 2020.
Pope says Omaha Public Power, Lincoln Electric System, and the City of Grand Island will be buying some of the power from Broken Bow.
Developers say the wind farm should economically benefit the Broken Bow area too. They estimate they'll pay $600,000 each year in local and state taxes in addition to landowner royalties.