Development of Nebraska's Wind Resources Gains Speed
In the past six months, a number of developments
have emerged in the state that indicate an important resource
- wind - is being given a second look.
In February, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report,
Strong Winds: Opportunities for Rural Economic Development Blow
Across Nebraska, which found supplying ten percent of the
state's electricity with wind power by 2012 would create 360 more
jobs, $8 million in more income and $35 million more in state gross
product than producing the same amount of electricity from coal and
natural gas generation.
More than Coal or Natural Gas
The study also projected the net benefits to the state's
economy would exceed the additional cost of developing wind
power by nearly $15 million a year over a 20-year period.
About 2.4 times more jobs during construction and 1.5 times
more jobs from on-going operation and maintenance would be
created than from coal and natural gas plants.
The report stated wind power could be an important source of
rural economic development in Nebraska as well. Assuming $2,000
a year for each wind turbine installed on farm land, the study
projected farmers and landowners could receive $2.2 million in
lease payments by 2012, if wind turbine targets are met. If
private developers owned half the projects, an additional
$5.2 million in property tax revenues would be generated by
The authors of the study suggested the benefits from wind power
would be most likely to accrue to parts of the state that are in
greatest economic need. Median income levels in Nebraska's
ten windiest counties are, on average, 21 percent below the state
average, and poverty rates are higher than the state average in
all but one of the windiest counties.
And the Answers Are
Last fall at a gathering of wind energy enthusiasts, Governor
Johanns asked them to find answers to a series of questions
on the potential for wind-generated electricity production
in the state and the prospects for exporting that power. In
March, a group of wind enthusiasts completed their effort to
answer the governor's questions.
In general, the group, which authored Windpower in Nebraska:
A Report to Governor Johanns, found both opportunities and
barriers, but concluded more work needed to be done.
In turn, Governor Johanns asked the Nebraska Power Association
to develop a plan for how the state could develop wind resources
with the utilities' cooperation. That plan is expected to be
completed before the end of the summer.
Meanwhile the construction of new turbines within the state
and in surrounding states continued to grow:
NMPP Energy, based in Lincoln, continued to
seek partners in
developing a wind farm with an estimated 27 turbines near Kimball.
According to NMPP Energy's John Krajewski, the proposed project
could cost $15-$20 million and produce an estimated 20 megawatts
of electricity, enough to meet the daily needs of 14,400 homes.
Omaha Public Power District and Valmont
announced plans to erect a
wind turbine near the Valmont complex in Valley. Valmont has developed
a turbine tower prototype that is less costly to transport and construct.
This working model would give both firms experience with wind turbines.
The turbine is expected to be operational sometime next year.
Nebraska Public Power District's Board of
a willingness to evaluate a partnership with the Municipal Energy
Agency of Nebraska to develop the state's first wind farm.
In Kansas, the state with the third highest wind potential,
Utilicorp will purchase the output and
FPL Energy will construct
a 110 megawatt wind farm beginning this spring in southwestern
Kansas. The 165 wind turbines will generate enough electricity
to provide the yearly power needs of 20,000 households.
In Wyoming, a 16.8 megawatt, 28 turbine addition at the
Foote Creek Rim project brought the total
at the site to more than 84 megawatts of electricity, enough
to meet the needs of more than 10,500 households. Most of the
power produced here is purchased by Bonneville Power
Administration and supplied to consumers in the
In South Dakota, what may become the nation's largest wind
turbine installation continued to press toward construction.
The 2,000 turbine wind farm is planned over three central
counties in the state. Besides in-state consumption, the
electricity from the site is expected to be sold to utilities
in Illinois and customers further east.
Looking at Electricity Prices in a Whole New Light
In southwest Ohio in June 1998 a transformer
failed, forcing a number of Midwestern utilities to scramble
to avoid blackouts. Spot prices on the electricity market
skyrocketed from $25 a megawatthour to $7,500.
Gasoline $450 a Gallon
Tom Overbye, an electrical and computer engineer at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote about
the incident in a paper on deregulation's effects on the
power grid in American Scientist, "Imagaine your consternation
if one day you pulled into a gas station and discovered the
price had increased three-hundred fold, from $1.50 a gallon
to $450 a gallon."
This same situation is what many in California and other states in the
West are facing this spring and summer.
Over the last ten years, Nebraska's energy
has increased almost 25 percent. In 1997, Nebraskans
consumed 613.0 trillion British thermal units of energy
compared to 492.5 trillion British thermal units in 1987.
Think of Nebraska's 1997 energy consumption this way . . .
613.0 trillion British thermal units is enough energy
to boil more than one-tenth (65 billion gallons) of the
water in Lake McConaughy (635 billion gallons).
Or . . .
One British thermal unit of energy is equivalent to
252 calories or one six-inch Subway turkey breast sandwich
on Italian bread (254 calories). Now multiply by 613 trillion.
Placing 613 trillion sandwiches side-by-side and end-to-end,
they would cover almost 90 percent of the continental United
Nebraska Energy Statistics, 1960-1997, Nebraska
Energy Office, Lincoln, NE
Gasoline prices can rise and fall quickly,
seemingly without reason. To help Americans understand how
gasoline is priced, the nation's foremost independent
statistical agency, the Energy Information Administration,
has produced A Primer on Gasoline Prices.
The Primer addresses key elements that can affect the
price of gasoline:
What are the components of the retail price of gasoline?
Why do gasoline prices fluctuate?
Why do gasoline prices differ according to region?
Copies of the brochure, A Primer on Gasoline Prices,
are available from the Energy Office, or at the Energy Information
Administration's web site:
EIA Primer on Gasoline Prices.
"Over the past several years, the Legislature has looked long and
hard at our electric system to answer one question: Is our public
power system ready for the 21st century? At the federal level, and
in a number of states, efforts are underway to "deregulate" the
electric industry. They say it will increase competition and
lower rates. In Nebraska, we needed to know how these changes
could affect us.
"What we found out was heartening. Our system is solid and ready to
meet our needs today and tomorrow. While no one is certain how efforts
underway to change the electric industry in other parts of the nation
will affect us, we must be vigilant and patient. Each year, the state's
Power Review Board, will assess the situation in key areas and report
to the Legislature its findings.
"So far, we have concluded the state's system created more than 100
years ago is still working, and working well."
Governor Mike Johanns
The Future of Nebraska's Electric Utility Industry
Several utilities in the state offer energy auditing services:
Contact a Technical Solutions Consultant from Nebraska
Public Power District offices or your local public power
provider for available services. Additional information
can also be obtained from NPPD's website at
Nebraska Public Power District
Energy Management Specialists at Lincoln Electric
System still perform walk-thru energy audits for customers.
To find out more about this service, contact LES at 473-3270
or email at Residential Audits-LES
Spiraling utility bills in some parts of the nation,
the need for uninterrupted service and concerns over environmental
impacts are generating increased interest in small wind energy
Small wind electric systems can make a significant
contribution to our nation's energy needs. Although wind
turbines large enough to provide a significant portion of the
electricity needed by the average U.S. home generally require
one acre of property or more, about 21 million homes are built
on one acre or larger sites, and about one-quarter of the U.S.
population lives in rural areas.
Small Wind Electric Systems provides basic information
you need to answer essential questions and address many factors
you need to consider to successfully install a small wind
energy system and get maximum production.
Keeping cool indoors when it is hot outdoors
is a problem. The sun beating down on homes causes indoor
temperatures to rise to uncomfortable levels. Air conditioning
provides some relief.
But the initial costs of installing an
air conditioner and the electricity costs to run it can be high.
In addition, conventional air conditioners use refrigerants made
of chlorine compounds, suspected contributors to the depletion of
the ozone layer and global warming.
But there are alternatives to air conditioning. Here are some
common sense suggestions and low-cost retrofit options from the
U.S. Department of Energy to help you "keep your cool" -- and
An alternative way to maintain a cool house or reduce
air-conditioning use is natural cooling. This means using
non-mechanical methods to maintain a comfortable indoor
temperature. The most effective method to cool your home is
to keep the heat from building up in the first place.
The primary source of heat buildup is sunlight absorbed by
your house through the roof, walls and windows. Secondary
sources are heat-generating appliances in the home and air
leakage. Specific methods to prevent this buildup include
reflecting heat and sunlight away from the house, blocking
the heat, removing built-up heat and reducing or eliminating
heat-generating sources in your home.
Reflecting Heat Away
Dull, dark-colored home exteriors absorb 70 percent to 90
percent of the radiant energy from the sun that strikes the
home's surfaces. Some of this absorbed energy is then
transferred into your home by way of conduction, resulting
in heat gain. In contrast, light-colored surfaces
effectively reflect most of the heat away from your home.
About a third of the unwanted heat that builds up in your
home comes in through the roof. This is hard to control with
traditional roofing materials. For example, unlike most
light-colored surfaces, even white asphalt and fiberglass
shingles absorb 70 percent of the solar radiation.
One good solution is to apply a reflective coating to the
existing roof. Two standard roofing coatings are available
at your local hardware store. They have both waterproof and
reflective properties and are marketed primarily for mobile
homes and recreational vehicles.
One coating is white latex that you can apply over many
common roofing materials, such as asphalt and fiberglass
shingles, tar paper, and metal. Most manufacturers offer a
A second coating is asphalt-based and contains glass fibers
and aluminum particles. You can apply it to most metal and
asphalt roofs. Because it has a tacky surface, it attracts
dust, which reduces its reflectivity somewhat.
Another way to reflect heat is to install a radiant barrier
on the underside of your roof. A radiant barrier is simply a
sheet of aluminum foil with a paper backing. When installed
correctly, a radiant barrier can reduce heat gains through your
ceiling by about 25 percent.
Radiant-barrier materials cost between 13 cents a square foot for
a single-layer product with a kraft-paper backing and 30 cents
a square foot for a vented multilayer product with a fiber-reinforced
backing. The latter product doubles as insulation.
Wall color is not as important as roof color, but it does
affect heat gain somewhat. White exterior walls absorb less
heat than dark walls. And light, bright walls increase the
longevity of siding, particularly on the east, west and
south sides of the house.
Roughly 40 percent of the unwanted heat that builds up in
your home comes in through windows. Reflective window
coatings are one way to reflect heat away from your home.
These coatings are plastic sheets treated with dyes or thin
layers of metal. Besides keeping your house cooler, these
reflective coatings cut glare and reduce fading of furniture,
draperies and carpeting.
Two main types of coatings include sun-control films and
combination films. Sun-control films are best for warmer
climates because they can reflect as much as 80 percent of
the incoming sunlight. Many of these films are tinted,
however, and tend to reduce light transmission as much as
they reduce heat, thereby darkening the room.
Combination films allow some light into a room but they also
let some heat in and prevent interior heat from escaping. These
films are best for climates that have both hot and cold seasons
such as Nebraska. Investigate the different film options carefully
to select the film that best meets your needs. You should not place
reflective coatings on south-facing windows if you want to take
advantage of heat gain during the winter. The coatings are applied
to the interior surface of the window. Although you can apply the
films yourself, it is a good idea to have a professional install
the coatings, particularly if you have several large windows.
This will ensure a more durable installation and a more aesthetically
Blocking the Heat
Two excellent methods to block heat are insulation and shading.
Insulation helps keep your home comfortable and saves money
on mechanical cooling systems such as air conditioners and electric
fans. Shading devices block the sun's rays and absorb or reflect
the solar heat.
Weatherization improvements -- such as insulating, weatherstripping
and caulking -- help seal and protect your house against the summer
heat in addition to keeping out the winter cold.
The attic is a good place to start insulating because it is a major
source of heat gain. Adequately insulating the attic protects the upper
floors of a house. Recommended attic insulation levels depend on where
you live and the type of heating system you use.
For most Nebraska climates, you want a minimum of
Wall insulation is not as important for cooling as attic
insulation because outdoor temperatures are not as hot as
attic temperatures. Also, floor insulation has little or no
effect on cooling.
Although unintentional infiltration of outside air is not a
major contributor to inside temperature, it is still a good idea
to keep it out. Outside air can infiltrate your home around
poorly sealed doors, windows, electrical outlets and through
openings in foundations and exterior walls. Thorough caulking
and weatherstripping will control most of these air leaks.
Shading your home can reduce indoor temperatures by as much
as 20 degrees. Effective shading can be provided by trees and
other vegetation and exterior or interior shades.
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to shade your
home and block the sun. A well-placed tree, bush or vine
can deliver effective shade and add to the aesthetic value
of your property. When designing your landscaping, use
plants native to your area that survive with minimal care.
Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall help
cut cooling energy costs the most. When selectively placed
around a house, they provide excellent protection from the
summer sun and permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your
house. The height, growth rate, branch spread and shape are
all factors to consider in choosing a tree. Vines are a
quick way to provide shading and cooling. Grown on trellises,
vines can shade windows or the whole side of a house. Ask
your local nursery which vine is best suited to your climate
Besides providing shade, trees and vines create a cool
microclimate that dramatically reduces the temperature by
as much as 9 degrees in the surrounding area. During photosynthesis,
large amounts of water vapor escape through the leaves,
cooling the passing air. And the generally dark and
coarse leaves absorb solar radiation.
You might also consider low ground cover such as grass,
small plants and bushes. A grass-covered lawn is usually
10 degrees cooler than bare ground in the summer. If you
are in an arid or semiarid climate, consider
native ground covers that require little water.
Tips to Cut Your Summer Utility Bills... continued...
Both exterior and interior shades control heat gain.
Exterior shades are generally more effective than interior
shades because they block sunlight before it enters windows.
When deciding which devices to use and where to use them,
consider whether you are willing to open and close them daily
or just put them up for the hottest season. You also want to
know how they will affect ventilation.
Exterior shading devices include awnings, louvers,
shutters, rolling shutters and shades and solar screens.
Awnings are very effective because they block direct
sunlight. They are usually made of fabric or metal and
are attached above the window and extend down and out.
A properly installed awning can reduce heat gain up to
65 percent on southern windows and 77 percent on eastern
windows. A light-colored awning does double duty by also
reflecting sunlight. Maintaining a gap between the top of
the awning and the side of your house helps vent accumulated
heat from under a solid-surface awning. In Nebraska, you will
want to remove awnings for winter storage, or buy
retractable ones, to take advantage of winter heat gain.
The amount of drop, or how far down the awning comes,
depends on which side of your house the window is on. An
east or west window needs a drop of 65 percent to 75
percent of the window height. A south-facing window only
needs a drop of 45 percent to 60 percent for the same
amount of shade. A pleasing angle to the eye for mounting
an awning is 45 degrees. Make sure the awning does not
project into the path of foot traffic unless it is at
least 6 feet 8 inches from the ground. One disadvantage
of awnings is that they can block views, particularly on
the east and west sides. However, slatted awnings do
allow limited viewing through the top parts of windows.
Louvers are attractive because their adjustable slats
control the level of sunlight entering the home and, depending
on the design, can be adjusted from inside or outside the house.
The slats can be vertical or horizontal. Louvers remain fixed
and are attached to the exteriors of window frames.
Shutters are movable wooden or metal coverings that, when
closed, keep sunlight out. Shutters are either solid or
slatted with fixed or adjustable slats. Besides reducing heat
gain, they can provide privacy and security. Some shutters
help insulate windows when it is cold outside.
Rolling shutters have a series of horizontal slats that
run down along a track. Rolling shades use a fabric. These
are the most expensive shading options, but they work well
and can provide security. Many exterior rolling shutters
or shades can be conveniently controlled from the inside.
One disadvantage is that when fully extended, they block
Solar screens resemble standard window screens except they keep
direct sunlight from entering the window, cut glare and block
light without blocking the view or eliminating air flow. They
also provide privacy by restricting the view of the interior
from outside your house. Solar screens come in a variety of
colors and screening materials to compliment any home.
Although do-it-yourself kits are available, these screens
will not last as long as professionally built screens.
Although interior shading is not as effective as exterior
shading, it is worthwhile if none of the previously mentioned
techniques are possible.
There are several ways to block the sun's heat from inside
Draperies and curtains made of tightly woven, light-colored,
opaque fabrics reflect more of the sun's rays than they let
through. The tighter the curtain is against the wall around
the window, the better it will prevent heat gain. Two layers
of draperies improve the effectiveness of the draperies'
insulation when it is either hot or cold outside.
Venetian blinds, although not as effective as draperies,
can be adjusted to let in some light and air while reflecting
the sun's heat. Some newer blinds are coated with reflective
finishes. To be effective, the reflective surfaces must face
Some interior cellular (honeycombed) shades also come with
reflective mylar coatings. But they block natural light and
restrict air flow.
Opaque roller shades are effective when fully drawn but also
block light and restrict air flow.
Removing Built-Up Heat
Nothing feels better on a hot day than a cool breeze. Encouraging
cool air to enter your house forces warm air out, keeping your
house comfortably cool. However, this strategy only works when
the inside temperature is higher than the outside temperature.
Natural ventilation maintains indoor temperatures close to
outdoor temperatures and helps remove heat from your home. But
only ventilate during the coolest parts of the day or night,
and seal off your house from the hot sun and air during the
hottest parts of the day.
The climate you live in determines the best ventilation
strategy. In areas with cool nights and very hot days, let
the night air in to cool your house. A well-insulated
house will gain only 1 degree an hour if the outside
temperature is 85-90 degrees. By the time the interior
heats up, the outside air should be cooler and can be
In climates with daytime breezes, open windows on the
side from where the breeze is coming and on the opposite
side of the house. Keep interior doors open to encourage
whole-house ventilation. If your location lacks consistent
breezes, create them by opening windows at the lowest and
highest points in your house. This natural "thermosiphoning,"
or "chimney," effect can be taken a step further by adding a
clerestory or a vented skylight.
In hot, humid climates where temperature swings between day and
night are small, ventilate when humidity is not excessive. Ventilating
your attic greatly reduces the amount of accumulated heat, which
eventually works its way into the main part of your house. Ventilated
attics are about 30 degrees cooler than unventilated attics. Properly
sized and placed louvers and roof vents help prevent moisture buildup
and overheating in your attic.
Reducing Heat-Generating Sources
Often-overlooked sources of interior heat gain are lights and
household appliances, such as ovens, dishwashers and dryers.
Because most of the energy that incandescent lamps use is given
off as heat, use them only when necessary. Take advantage of daylight
to illuminate your house and consider switching to compact fluorescent
lamps. These use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent lamps
and emit 90 percent less heat for the same amount of light.
Many household appliances generate a lot of heat. When possible,
use them in the morning or late evening when you can better tolerate
the extra heat. Consider cooking on an outside barbecue grill or use
a microwave oven, which does not generate as much heat and uses less
energy than a gas or electric range.
Washers, dryers, dishwashers and water heaters also generate
large amounts of heat and humidity. To gain the most benefit,
seal off your laundry room and water heater from the rest of
New, energy-efficient appliances generate less heat and use
less energy. When it is time to purchase new appliances, make
sure they are energy efficient. All refrigerators, dishwashers
and dryers display an EnergyGuide label indicating the annual
estimated cost for operating the appliance or a standardized
energy efficiency ratio. Compare appliances and buy the most
efficient models for your needs.
Using any or all of these strategies will help keep you
cool. Even if you use air conditioning, many of these strategies,
particularly reflecting heat and shading, will help reduce the energy
costs of running an air conditioner.
However, adopting all of these strategies may not be enough.
Sometimes you need to supplement natural cooling with mechanical
devices. Fans and evaporative coolers can supplement your cooling
strategies and cost less to install and run than air conditioners.
Ceiling fans make you feel cooler. Their effect is equivalent to
lowering the air temperature by about 4 degrees. Evaporative coolers
use about one-fourth the energy of conventional air conditioners, but
are effective only in dry climates.
Some utilities offer rebates and other cost incentives when you
purchase or install energy-saving products, such as insulation
and energy-efficient lighting and appliances. Contact your local
utility company to see what it offers in the way of incentives.
The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features
questions asked about 6% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.
Loan forms may be obtained from participating
lenders or the Energy Office.
Loans as of June 30, 2001: 18,391 loans for $129.2 million
Questions and Answers...
5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans
If emergency approval to replace a
cooling system has been received, can heating and water
heating systems be installed at the same time?
The Energy Office allows this, if all units meet the minimum
standards and have been approved at the same time as the cooling
system. It is usually easier and less expensive to install all
of the systems at the same time, which saves borrower's added
Last fall, I learned the Energy Office was
expediting the review of energy audits for irrigation projects
because of the extreme dry spell being experienced in much of
the state. Are these projects still being expedited?
The Energy Office is no longer giving priority to
irrigation projects. With the moisture relief experienced
over the past few months and the increase in demand in
loan applications from all the sectors, the Energy Office
is processing loan applications and technical audits
in the order they are received.
My utility bills were quite high over the winter
months and I was wondering if there were any resources available to
me to help identify improvements I could be making to help soften
the impact of continued high fuel prices?
The loan program application Forms 1, 2, 3 and 4 list a
variety of improvements you can make which will typically
have a 10 to 15 year payback, depending on the age and
condition of the equipment being replaced or the building
or home being improved.
If you would rather have an energy
audit conducted to more clearly identify cost effective
improvements before you make a decision to undertake any
improvements, you could contact a rater certified under
the Nebraska Home Energy Rating System to conduct a rating
analysis and provide you with a report and list of suggested
energy efficiency improvements. These ratings also can be
done on small multi-family dwellings.
If you own a commercial
business or a larger multi-family building, you could contact
an engineering or architectural firm which provides those
services. The Energy Office maintains a list of certified
home energy raters and energy auditors participating in
the Dollar and Energy Saving Loan Program.
Has the recent surge in fuel costs, the
dry weather experienced by farmers and ranchers, and a colder
than usual winter in most parts of the state, affected demand
for Dollar and Energy Savings Loans?
Even with the addition of $600,000 in oil
overcharge funds to
the loan pool, all the funds which are available have been
committed to applications or invested in loans. Now, the
Energy Office must rely on repayments to fund new applications.
If repayments are insufficient for the demand, the Energy Office
will establish a waiting list for completed applications eligible
for funding and commit funds to those applications in the
order in which they have been received and found to be eligible
If a waiting list for loans develops and my
loan application is on the list, may I go ahead and do my project?
No. Projects may not be contracted for or started before the
Energy Office has signed a Commitment Agreement with your lender
for our share of the loan. If you move ahead with your project
before that happens, you are no longer eligible for a loan.
The only exceptions to this situation are emergency heating system
replacements in the winter and emergency cooling system replacements
for medical reasons in the summer, which require prior approval.
Do you have to submit more than one form for
some projects such as doors, windows, roofs and siding? If so,
what application forms must be completed along with project
Application Form 2, Door, Window, Wall and Ceiling Projects,
must be completed and submitted by the loan applicant for all
projects listed on that form. In addition to Form 2, the loan
applicant and contractor must complete and submit Form 2/Siding
if the wall insulation project includes siding; Form 2/Roofing
if the attic or ceiling insulation project includes roof repair
or replacement; and Form 2/Window/Door if the project is for the
replacement of windows or exterior doors. All borrower forms
can be downloaded from the agency's web site,
If a cooling system breaks down during warm
weather, can emergency approval be obtained to install a new
system before the loan process has been completed?
If the cooling system breaks down any time during April
through October, you can request emergency approval from
the Energy Office through your lender to install qualifying
equipment prior to the loan process being completed and the
Energy Office committing funds to the project. However, your
lender must provide the Energy Office with a written statement
from a doctor verifying there is a medical reason the cooling
system must be installed immediately. Information on the system
being installed must also be supplied.
In these situations, the Energy Office will review the request
and notify the lender whether or not emergency approval has been
granted, usually the same day. After Energy Office approval, the
project may be started and the loan paperwork submitted as soon
as the system is installed.
In accordance with the American Disabilities
Act, the state will provide reasonable
accommodation to persons with disabilities. If
you need reasonable accommodation to participate
in any program or activity listed in this
publication, please contact the Energy Office
at 402-471-2186 to coordinate arrangements.
Upon request, this publication may be available
in alternative formats.
This material was prepared with the support of
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grant No.
DE-FG47-92CE60410. However, any opinions, findings,
conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein
are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the views of DOE.