Steele Flats Wind Energy Center dedicated

June 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

DILLER — A few years ago, the scenery south of Diller consisted of your traditional Nebraska cash crops.

Today, the horizon is lined with more than 40 wind turbines generating nearly 75 megawatts of energy, enough to power more than 19,000 homes.

The Steele Flats Wind Energy Center, roughly three miles south of Diller, is the culmination of a four-year project to bring wind energy to the Sunland.

On Thursday, the site was officially dedicated at a ceremony featuring officials from NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the company behind the wind farm, and Governor Dave Heineman, who detailed the venture’s importance to rural Nebraska.

“Wind energy development is very important to rural Nebraska,” he said. “We’re not going to put these up in downtown Omaha or Lincoln. They’re going to be in places like we’re doing here today in Gage and Jefferson County. The state is now transitioning into a new period of wind energy growth and development. We’ve made significant advances in our legislation that’s made a difference.”

The facility was put into operation last November, two months ahead of schedule. The project was a $138 million capital investment.

Jack Clark, Business Manager with NextEra Energy Resources, said the 44 turbines, each generating 1.7 megawatts, are located on 10,500 acres in Gage and Jefferson counties.

Energy produced at Steele Flats is provided to Nebraska Public Power District as part of a long-term contract.

Pat Pope, President and CEO of NPPD said wind farms such as Steele Flats are helping NPPD progress toward a goal of incorporating more renewable energy into operations.

“NPPD’s board of directors have set a goal of having 10 percent of our energy resources come from renewable energy, primarily wind power, by 2020,” he said. “Steele Flats brings us a step closer to meeting that goal. NPPD will continue to look at additional wind power, but at the same time continue to stay focused on keeping our electric rates for our customers as low as possible while maintaining the reliability our customers expect.”

Steele Flats Wind Energy Center is also selling a portion of renewable energy credits to BD, a medical technology company, for the next 20 years to offset 75 percent of the electricity use at its manufacturing facilities in Columbus and Holdrege.

Heineman said wind energy is Nebraska’s latest venture into renewable energy after becoming the second-leading state for ethanol production, and Nebraska has the fourth best wind energy potential in the nation.

“It’s very critical when you look at our overall national wind energy how this is going to help in terms of the national energy portfolio,” Heineman said. “It’s going to provide meaningful employment and education opportunities for our fellow Nebraskans.

“We also want to encourage the development, ownership and operation of renewable energy facilities that will export wind energy from Nebraska because we’ve got the capacity to do that. Just like we export foreign products all over the world, we want to do the same thing with wind.”

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