State’s Largest Wind Farm Begins Production
On October 18, 2005, more than 450 people attended the dedication of Nebraska’s newest and largest wind facility in Ainsworth.
Built by the Nebraska Public Power District, the facility will also generate electricity for other public power entities: the Omaha Public Power District, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, Jacksonville Electric Authority of Jacksonville, Florida and Grand Island Utilities. Omaha Public Power District and Jacksonville Electric Authority will each utilize 10 megawatts of the 60-megawatt facility, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska has contracted for seven megawatts and Grand Island Utilities for one. Nebraska Public Power District and its wholesale customers will share the remaining output of 32 megawatts.
In addition to speaking about the benefits of public power utilities working together, Gov. Heineman talked to the crowd about the value of clean-fuel energy. “Investments in renewable energy are an example of a direction we should be headed,” he said. “Our nation’s future is tied to our natural resources.”
Three state senators were on hand for the event. Senator Schrock, chairman of the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee, congratulated Nebraska Public Power District and its partners for building a wind energy facility that reflects the growing support for wind energy in Nebraska. Omaha Senator Preister encouraged the utilities to build more wind facilities in the future. Senator Deb Fischer, who represents the Ainsworth area, complimented the community. “We have some of the strongest and most consistent winds in the state,” she said. “We can really be proud of our community and our area for working so well with Nebraska Public Power District.”
Wind speed in the Ainsworth area averages 19.5 miles an hour, and each turbine can generate 1.65 megawatts of power. The Ainsworth facility can meet the annual power needs of about 19,000 homes.
The Nebraska Power Review Board and the utility’s Board of Directors approved the project in August 2004. Installation of the facility’s 36 wind turbines was completed on August 1, 2005. Commercial operation of the facility began September 15, 2005. Since October 2005, the facility has generated between 18 and 24 million killowatthours a month.
Nebraska Turbines Record Wind Speed Above 100 mph
Winds from the late November 2005 blizzard reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, a Nebraska Public Power District official said. Turbines at the district's wind energy facility near Ainsworth recorded wind gusts up to 114 miles per hour, said Chris Derickson, a utility water systems/renewable energy resource leader. "That's a hurricane on the plains," Derickson said.
According to NPPD, average gusts at the wind energy facility during the blizzard were 83 miles per hour.
The Energy Office provided $7,000 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America program to Nebraska Public Power District to develop a web site with information about the Ainsworth wind facility. The web site includes:
In January 2006, the Ainsworth facility produced more than 24 million kilowatthours of electricity, more than six times the amount produced by the wind project in Kimball, which was the first wind farm in Nebraska and previously the largest wind generation facility in the state. A three-year overview of the Kimball wind project appeared in the January, 2006 issue of Essent.
The Energy Office maintains a database of electricity produced by the wind generation facilities in the state.