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Nebraska study turns in negative verdict on selling wind power out of state

A study by the Nebraska Power Authority (NPA), made up of the state's electric co-operatives, found there would be no place outside of Nebraska to sell wind power produced within the state because surrounding jurisdictions already have wind programs. The study was commissioned last year by Governor Mike Johanns as a challenge to the tightly knit Nebraska utility industry to develop wind resources in one of America's windiest states (Windpower Monthly, June 2001). The study also found that wind costs more than competing energy resources in the state and that the windiest and most likely areas for development lack the transmission capacity needed to export the energy. The study also says that wind would place an "undue burden on the state's electric customers and reduce the competitive advantage Nebraska has in the area of electric costs." Johanns, however, believes the state should not give up on wind. "Over time, it is going to be a good investment, even though today it is very difficult to make the numbers work." A study released this year by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that developing renewable resources in the state could bring $1.4 billion in economic benefits beyond electricity production. The NPA did say its utilities would remain committed to pursuing renewables inside the state for their own customers. Those projects, it says, would be on a smaller scale and require customer support until "there are further improvements in the economics of wind energy in Nebraska." Nebraska's Wind Energy Task Force, created by Johanns in 2000, says the NPA is resistant to change and points out that the report was put together without the input of anyone from outside the utility industry, contrary to Johanns' instructions.

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