Wind Farm Going Up Near Broken Bow

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Anyone driving around central Nebraska will likely see more than a few windmills - proof that Nebraskans have been harnessing the power of the wind for years.

The Broken Bow area will be harnessing even more of that energy when construction of an 80 megawatt wind farm is completed next year.

The Nebraska Public Power District will be buying most of the power produced by the 14,000 acre wind farm, but they are in negotiations with multiple Nebraska utility companies to share the rest.

"Assuming we get all the agreements finalized, that will be shared with the majority of Nebraska utilities," said David Rich, NPPD Sustainable Energy Manager.

The Broken Bow wind farm will produce about the same amount of power the Laredo Ridge farm in Boone County currently does. However, Rich says a newer model of turbine will mean there will be a few less turbines dotting the hillsides than at Laredo.

"At Broken Bow they're using a slightly bigger turbine - the 1.6 mega-watt," said Rich. "There'll be 50 General Electric turbines installed there."

The Broken Bow farm will be located about 3 miles northeast of Broken Bow. It will start at Highway 70, and then stretch about 8 miles to the north. Officials say it's an exciting kind of project to have developing in Custer County.

"With the payment to the landowners, and an increase in full-time positions, it means a lot," said Liz Babcock, President of the Custer Economic Development Corporation. "It's definitely an exciting development, you're already seeing trucks go by on our highway."

Edison Mission Group, the company spearheading the project along with Midwest Energy, says about 10 permanent jobs will be created in the Broken Bow area. They also say an average of $540,000 per year will be paid in lease royalties to landowners over the next 25 years.

NPPD says the wind farm will put them up to having about 5% of their total power coming from renewable energy sources, but wind probably won't be the answer for all of Nebraska's power generation.

"Wind energy is great when the wind is blowing, but there are a lot of times when the wind is not blowing, and so we refer to wind energy as not being dispatchable," said Rich. "We need dispatchable generation such as hydro, coal, or natural gas to back up the wind generation."

NPPD is already in talks with the Edison Mission Group about adding a second phase on to the Broken Bow farm.

The other wind farm currently under construction will be located near the existing Elkhorn Ridge Wind Farm near Bloomfield. The Crofton Bluffs Wind Farm and the Broken Bow Wind Farm are slated to come online in late 2012.

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