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NextEra, Nebraska utility, open 74.8-MW wind farm


From the July 15, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 15, 2014

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman was among those on hand last month to celebrate the commercial operation of the Steele Flats Wind Energy Center. The 74.8-megawatt wind facility, located in Jefferson and Gage counties in Nebraska, is owned and operated by an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources. All of the power generated by the Steele Flats Wind Energy Center is being provided to the Nebraska Public Power District under a long-term contract.

BD, a medical technology company, is purchasing a portion of the renewable energy credits generated from the wind farm for the next 20 years to offset 75 percent of the electricity use at its manufacturing facilities in Columbus and Holdrege, Neb. 

"I'm excited that NextEra Energy has built a wind farm in Nebraska," said Gov. Heineman at the June 19 dedication ceremony for the wind farm. "Projects such as Steele Flats are helping make America more energy independent and more energy secure by relying on energy grown and produced here at home, rather than overseas. Wind energy helps our local and state economy and is an important step toward our own energy future." 

The Steele Flats Wind Energy Center is located on approximately 10,500 acres of privately owned agricultural and ranch land. The wind facility comprises 44 General Electric turbines that each has the capacity to generate 1.7 MW of energy. The facility entered service in November 2013, two months ahead of schedule. The project represents a $138 million capital investment and is expected to contribute millions in property taxes and land lease payments over the first 20 years of the plant's life. 

"This relationship between Nebraska Public Power District, BD and NextEra Energy has added another generation resource to our energy portfolio, and at the same time we have been able to assist BD, a company with deep Nebraska roots, in meeting their global initiatives," said NPPD President and Chief Executive Officer Pat Pope. 

"We are very pleased that our collaboration with NPPD is benefiting the community and the environment," said Steve Sichak, senior vice president for integrated supply chain at BD. "The resulting renewable energy is not only sustainable, it also enhances our operational efficiency." 

"Steele Flats is our first facility in Nebraska," said John Ketchum, senior vice president of business management and finance at NextEra Energy Resources. "This wind energy center not only contributes to Nebraska's renewable energy supply but also helps to power Jefferson and Gage counties' local economies."

The project, which broke ground a year ago, has employed approximately 200 construction workers and now supports five full-time jobs, said NextEra. 
 

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