- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln’s power utility has announced plans to use enough power from wind farms and a solar energy project to increase its renewable energy generation portfolio to 48 percent by 2016.

The Lincoln Electric System will add 173 megawatts of power generated from a wind farm in north-central Kansas and one in northeast Nebraska in 2016, The Lincoln Journal Star reported Saturday (https://bit.ly/1wzgNeW ). The utility also will add a 5-megawatt solar energy farm along Interstate 80 near the Lincoln airport.

The solar farm’s footprint - equivalent to about 25 football fields - will be one of the largest in the Midwest and will be visible to passing motorists, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said.

“This is a big, big historic change that is taking place,” Beutler said.

The utility will not own the projects, it said, but has signed long-term power purchase contracts with developers.

The projects are expected to save Lincoln power customers more than $420 million over the next 25 years, said Kevin Wailes, administrator and CEO of the city-owned utility. He said the three projects also will help delay rate increases.

“It’s a very good day in Lincoln,” said John Atkeison, director of energy policy at the Nebraska Wildlife Federation. “It saves the future. It saves money today and the climate tomorrow. We’re not done, yet, but it’s a very good step.”

The Nebraska Sierra Club, an environmental group, also lauded the announcement, calling the move a “game-changer” for the utility and the state.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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