Steele Flats’ latest wind farm to sprout in Nebraska

June 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Bets and Melvin Beran

Bets and Melvin Beran show one of the Wind Turbines near their home. Gov. Dave Heineman will commemorate the Steele Flats wind farm between Odell and Diller in southeast Nebraska today. The installation is one of the biggest in the state and about half of its output appears to be going to Becton Dickinson Co.

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 11:30 am

Updated: 3:56 pm, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

Steele Flats’ latest wind farm to sprout in Nebraska

By Cole Epley
World-Herald News Service

Kearney Hub

DILLER — Between here and Odell, the 262-foot-tall turbines that tower over pastures and wheat, corn and bean fields surround the home of Bets and Melvin Beran, who have lived in the area for 58 years.

The Berans were deliberate in deciding to allow NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based energy company, to erect wind turbines on their land. They even stopped in Taft, Texas, while on vacation with family to get perspective from landowners there who had the structures on their property.

June 19, 2014

The family gave the go-ahead and watched as construction crews built the wind farm in a matter of months last year. They and other landowners with turbines are being compensated by NextEra Energy, which cuts a check every three months and adds royalties based on how much electricity the turbines produce.

Bets Beran, 80, said it will be their children and grandchildren who really benefit from the payments — “You can’t take it with you” — but the Steele Flats wind farm also is helping Nebraska take a leap in its wind energy capacity.

And a plan for Steele Flats to provide 40 percent of its power for a single industrial customer, Becton Dickinson and Co., could signal the potential for a new type of demand for wind energy.

The $138 million Steele Flats project in Johnson and Gage Counties began generating electricity in November, and a larger, 118-turbine Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center in Antelope County began generating electricity in May. The $390 million Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center was built by Chicago-based Invenergy LLC, and its electricity will be distributed by Omaha Public Power District.

Together, the two farms boosted the state’s installed wind capacity by 50 percent.

The Steele Flats wind farm today is scheduled to draw a host of local and state elected officials, including Gov. Dave Heineman, for a ribbon-cutting.

Federal tax credits for wind energy expired at the end of 2013, but projects that began construction before Dec. 31, 2013, still qualify.

The second phase of an installation at Broken Bow is expected to be online in October, adding 75 megawatts of wind power. And the $700 million, 400-megawatt Grande Prairie Wind Farm in Holt County near O’Neill will be feeding power into the Omaha Public Power District grid in 2016.

The outlook for new wind projects is uncertain, though.

Nebraska Public Power District is within 22 megawatts of its renewable output goal, and Prairie Breeze took OPPD’s total renewable output to about 13.5 percent. When the Grande Prairie Wind Farm comes online in 2016, OPPD’s renewable output will be at 30 percent. It had a goal of achieving 10 percent by 2020.


Thursday, June 19, 2014 11:30 am.

Updated: 3:56 pm.

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