Wind firm pitches proposal to Loup Power

February 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

COLUMBUS — Ever increasing wholesale power rates have Loup Public Power District looking to the wind for answers.

Omaha-based Bluestem Energy Solutions pitched a proposal to the Loup board last week that would allow the local utility to lock in a wind energy rate for 25 years.

Loup Public Power’s wholesale power provider, Nebraska Public Power District, has routinely raised rates over recent years. Those increases are then passed down to Loup’s residential and commercial customers.

“With wind turbines, you are looking at not only the economic development but also the rate opportunity,” said Adam Herink Bluestem Energy Solutions vice president.

Herink believes utilizing wind energy puts Nebraskans in control of what’s in their own backyard, making electricity users more independent.

With NPPD’s rates increasing each year, Loup Public Power President and CEO Neal Suess said the possibility of adding wind energy may be something worth looking into.

“Our obvious reservation with Bluestem is if they don’t match our load, we don’t want our energy costs higher than what we’re actually using,” Suess said.

Wind energy currently costs more than electricity Loup purchases from coal-fired power plants, but Herink said when coal prices go up and wind turbines kick in, the utility will pay a locked rate whether it’s next year or 25 years from now.

If NPPD increases rates by 3 percent annually, wind energy can save Loup $130,982 per year, or $2.62 million over the course of a 25-year contract, according to Bluestem.

“The power goes right on your system, it’s used by your customers and NPPD doesn’t even doesn’t know what’s happening. If the wind starts blowing it looks like to them that some people shut off their air conditioners,” said Herink.

If a new wind farm is developed, it would likely be erected between Albion and Clarkson along Highway 91. 

Suess said risks are tough, which is why Loup is doing its homework before making any investment in Bluestem’s wind energy.

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