Nebraska Gets On the Wind Bandwagon

Although Nebraska has been lagging bordering states on wind installations, that’s about to change.

With a mere 554 megawatts (MW) of wind installed, Nebraska is about to jump to 1200 MW in 2015, adding 750 MW this year and next.

At this month’s 6th Annual Nebraska Wind Conference and Exhibition, attendance is up and there are more sponsors and exhibitors. This year’s theme, Harvesting Nebraska’s Potential, has the industry excited because the state is finally taking wind energy seriously.

One big reason for Nebraska’s new-found interest is the potential for wind to lower property taxes. Other reasons include lease payments to farmers and ranchers, jobs and tax revenue, in addition to delivering clean energy in the state.

In particular, people that live in rural areas are feeling the pinch of rising property taxes. But if a large, say 200 MW wind farm was there, those taxes could drop as much as 39%, and 10% in more populated areas, according to a study reported on

"Whatever we can do to incent wind farms will only benefit rural communities and their property tax burden," State Senator Steve Lathrop told the World-Herald Bureau.

It’s a much better idea for lowing property taxes than the usual methods of either shifting taxes to other taxpayers or increasing sales taxes, he says. 

The recently approved 400 MW Grande Prairie wind farm, for example, will pay about 9% of that county’s property tax, about $2.6 million a year.

Wind Farm Nebraska Grande Prairie

Even though Nebraska ranks #4 on wind resources, with 92% of its land appropriate for wind energy (National Renewable Energy Lab), it ranks #23 in wind generation.

That’s because until Legislative Bill 104 passed this year, Nebraska didn’t offer any incentives for wind farms, and many say they still don’t compete with neighboring states.

Until 2007, wind developers couldn’t even get the federal production tax credit because all Nebraska’s utilities are owned by the state.

With 5.1 gigawatts of wind, neighboring Iowa gets 25% of its electricity from wind, and that will double by 2020. That’s why Facebook is siting its latest data center there – because it can run entirely on wind. 

Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado get 10% of energy from wind, passing the gigawatt mark years ago. 

Read the study, Impact of Wind Energy on Property Taxes in Nebraska:

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