- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - Board members for the Loup Public Power District say they’re cautiously optimistic that the Nebraska utility can expand its use of wind and other renewable resources to generate power.

The district’s newest contract with the Nebraska Public Power District increases the percentage of power it can purchase from sources such as renewable energy from 3 percent to 10 percent.

That allowed the Loup Public Power District to add more turbines at one site and opened up the option to purchase power from a hydroelectric plant, the Columbus Telegram reports (http://bit.ly/1OePhrg ).

Board member Mike Fleming said he expects members will learn more about the viability of wind through the Creston Ridge Wind Farm, the site where turbines were added.

“Now, instead of listening to stories about how it’s working, we can know firsthand how it’s working,” Fleming said. “I think that it is likely that more will come, but to be fair, right now we’re learning. I think it’s going to very, very good with all the studies and info we have thus far.”

Board member Dick Tooley is a little more cautious than optimistic. He said he’d like to see how Creston Ridge performs before committing any further.

“It’ll be interesting to study over the next couple years,” he said. “We’ll understand the value better when we get a track record to see how efficient it is to generate electricity.”

Because of concern over fossil fuels, board member Larry Zach said utilities will naturally develop more renewable energy. But the scale of that development depends on financial incentives.

“The wind generation industry is following the tax subsidies,” he said.

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Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com

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