Lyons, Nebraska - Center for Rural Affairs released a letter signed by 28 rural and small town community leaders in medicine, education, agriculture, business, economic development and the faith community, urging the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) to make investments in rural and small town Nebraska’s energy future by purchasing locally produced wind power at today’s historically low rates.
“An investment in Nebraska wind power is an investment in the future of our communities, and that’s crucial to all of us,” June Simpson, Silver Hills Winery, Burt County, Nebraska
“The affordability of wind energy and the local economic development these technologies create, along with growing health concerns, all require that we take advantage of the present opportunity,” said Simpson.
According to Lu Nelsen of the Center for Rural Affairs, the NPPD board of directors will vote on Friday, October 11th, on increasing the district’s wind energy purchases.
“This is a crucial vote, because the NPPD board has a chance to have a much greater positive impact on our state and communities by increasing their investment in wind energy,” said Nelsen. “Wind energy has never been cheaper, increasing our investment now will help us move away from dirtier energy sources, and it brings economic opportunities to our rural communities. The same tired arguments, focusing on cost and intermittency, lose credibility each day as utilities in bordering states continue to invest in their local economies.”
The joint letter also focuses on the economic potential of wind energy development, and points out that, unfortunately, Nebraska ranks only 25th in installed wind capacity, far behind neighboring states like Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and Colorado but also behind such states as Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
“The economic development potential these investments create can be astounding,” added Patty Plugge, Burt County Economic Development Director. “Wind power installations result in total county-level personal income of approximately $11,000 per megawatt and create an additional 0.5 jobs per megawatt.”
“All of us depend on reliable, affordable electricity,” concluded Nelsen. “However, the $2.7 billion dollars Nebraskans spend annually to meet our electricity needs can be managed more productively. More of it should be invested in purchasing Nebraska wind energy.”