The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) Board of Directors at its January 19, 2017 board meeting approved pursuing a 20-year power purchase agreement with Sandhills Energy based in Valentine, Nebraska, for the output of a 30-megawatt nameplate capacity wind project at the existing site of MEAN’s Kimball, Nebraska, Wind Project.
The agreement would include decommissioning the existing 10.5-megawatt MEAN Kimball Wind Project and replacing it with 12 larger (2.5 megawatt), more efficient turbines.
The existing Kimball Wind Project, located three miles northwest of Kimball, consists of seven 1.5 megawatt turbines and began commercial operation in 2002. Increasing maintenance issues and associated repair costs on the turbines led the MEAN Board to look at options to replace the existing facility.
“The agreement allows MEAN’s participating municipalities to add more renewable energy while using the existing site near Kimball,” said Tim Sutherland, MEAN director of wholesale operations. MEAN issued a request for proposals last November for additional wind-generated energy with a preference to decommission the current wind project and build at the existing site. Decommissioning of the existing project is expected to begin in Summer 2017. The new facility is expected to be in operation by the end of 2017.
Today’s improved wind turbine technology, along with the opportunity to benefit from the Federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit, provided to private wind developers, makes it a good time to replace and expand the site’s wind generation capability, said Sutherland. The Production Tax Credit provides private wind developers a financial rebate for wind energy produced.
The Kimball project, approaching its 15th year in operation, was the first commercial utility-scale wind project in Nebraska. Energy generated at the site is used by MEAN to serve its wholesale participating communities, including the City of Kimball.
The Kimball project is one of several wind projects generating renewable energy. Currently, 69 participating communities in Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa and Wyoming are served by MEAN.