Wind Power Conference Talks Transmission

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Citizens, government agencies, and private companies were in Kearney Tuesday and Wednesday talking about everything from right-of-way rules to turbine hardware standards.

It was all part of the 4th Annual Nebraska Wind Power Conference.

The Nebraska Wind Working Group, which sponsors the two-day event, says it's a chance for landowners, utility companies, and developers to work together to move Nebraska renewable energy forward.

"There's now a sense of community that was not there before [the conferences started], said John Hansen, President of the Nebraska Farmers Union. "At the end of the day, especially in a public power state, it's important for our citizens to be informed, engaged, and talking to their public power suppliers about the kind of energy sources that they want in their future."

Organizers say one thing that this year's Wind Power Conference is focusing on is the role of transmission - both in terms of moving wind energy across Nebraska and across the country.

"Nebraska has an enormous amount of potential for wind and other forms of renewables, the real question is do they have the delivery system to export those resources?" said Jim Hoecker, senior attorney at Husch Blackwell in Washington DC and Tuesday's keynote speaker.

Hoecker says states like Nebraska need to be willing to invest in transmission infrastructure. He says without it wind won't reach its full potential anywhere in the US.

"We're going to have reliability problems, we'll have congestion which will keep electricity prices high, so there are lots of reasons that we need to get our act together," he said.

Hoecker says the region is also hoping for positive federal policies that will encourage renewable energy growth and make it easier for states to work together.

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