By Matt Olberding
There’s been a lot of debate over wind energy projects in Nebraska over the past year, but there’s no debate over the fact that the sector is growing rapidly in the state.
In fact, according to a report released Tuesday, no other state saw more growth in wind power than Nebraska.
According to the report from the American Wind Energy Association, Nebraska added 558 megawatts of wind energy capacity in 2018. That was only about half as much as neighboring Iowa, but on a percentage basis, it was tops in the nation.
The AWEA said Nebraska wind energy capacity grew 39% last year compared with 2017. By contrast, the nation as a whole averaged 8% growth.PauseCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Stream TypeLIVELoaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00Fullscreen00:00Mute
“Nebraska is leading America’s wind energy growth,” said Josh Moenning, mayor of Norfolk and director of New Power Nebraska, in a news release.
“The wind energy industry is creating new income for farmers, new good-paying jobs in small towns, and new tax revenues that are improving schools and local infrastructure,” Moenning said. “Nebraska now creates energy as efficiently as it does food, harvesting the wind and meeting growing market demands for clean energy.”
According to the report, Nebraska currently has 1,972 megawatts of installed wind capacity in 25 projects, which ranks 14th nationally and represents about $3.5 billion of capital investment. At the end of 2018, projects with another 1,100 megawatts of power were either under construction or in advanced planning stages, the report said.
When it comes to the economic impact of the state’s wind energy projects, the report said they paid an estimated $8.5 million in state and local taxes, more than $5 million in lease payments and employed nearly 4,000 people in 2018.