Nebraska Govenor Mike Johanns
Nebraska governor Mike Johanns at the dedication of the state's fifth wind turbine located just west of Omaha.

Reaping Nebraska's Wild Winds

Wind power and electric vehicles seem made for each other, especially on America's Great Plains.

By EV World

This past Friday, December 21, 2001, Omaha Public Power District and Valmont Industries, headquartered in Valley, Nebraska dedicated a new 660kW Vesta wind turbine. The wind was blowing a good 25 miles per hour, generating some 500kW of electricity as a select group of dignitaries gathered at the foot of the 200 feet-tall turbine tower.

In addition to the governor, also present for the official switch-throwing was Mogen Bay, the chairman of Valmont, the world's largest builder of center pivot irrigation systems, Congressman Lee Terry and Fred Petersen, the chairman of the board for OPPD.

EV World was on hand to cover the dedication for a couple reasons. We were instrumental in getting OPPD to sponsor its PowerDrive electric vehicle competition, which in the last four years has grown from just 12 schools to more than 50 across the state. According to OPPD officials, PowerDrive has become on of the most successful public outreach programs in which the utility has participated.

EV World's editor was also on hand because he and two associates will be working closely with both OPPD and Valmont over the next year to develop a wind power forecasting system through a new endeavor he has co-founded called Microclimetrics.

After the dedication, EV World's editor explained to Valmont's Mogen Bay -- who introduces the governor in the video below -- that there appears to be natural symbiotic relationship between wind power and electric vehicles. Not only can wind-generated electricity - - or hydrogen - - power EVs, either battery or fuel cell, with pollution free energy, but the batteries on EVs can also serve a storage banks for intermittently-generated wind energy. The one can complement the other.

As happens on many remote location shots, the sound on this video leaves a much to be desired, but we think you'll find Governor Johanns' remarks interesting. You have your choice of either Real Player or QuickTime video formats.

Also below the video links we have reproduced the official prepared text of the governor's speech that he left out during his remarks.

Real Player Format

Governor Johanns' Remarks

"One question I keep asking is, can we do the same with wind (as we did with ethanol production)?

"We know Nebraska has some of the best wind resources in the nation. Valmont has created innovative tower technology to support wind turbines. MEAN has found a way to leverage outside financial resources to finance projects, if necessary. The state's largest utilities have experience with power generation and transmission partnerships with out-of-state utilities. So, we've already created or identified most of the elements necessary to expand wind power -- whether the customers are here or elsewhere.

"We know wind turbines located in rural areas can be a stablizing economic development force. A wind farm may create jobs, or provide extra income to keep a farmer or rancher in business. Since rural Nebraska will benefit as a result of wind generated electricity, we need to find a way for rural electric systems and small municipally-owned systems -- that have not produced electricity before -- to become involved as generating partners.

"As we plan for our future generation needs, we should not lose sight of the fact that the money to buy coal from Wyoming or natural gas from Kansas to build roads and schools comes from Nebraska.

"We also need to be candid about wind energy's limitations. Just as ethanol will not replace oil, wind power will not completely replace coal, natural gas or nuclear generated electricity.

"I would like to ask for your help. Everyday, I receive hundreds of letters on many subjects, increasingly the topic is about our wind resources. What should I tell Nebraskans who write and ask, as Barbara Stevenson of Kearney recently did, "What is Nebraska waiting for?"

"I hope the forthcoming wind development business plan from the Nebraska Power Association will help me answer Barbara's question.

"Thank you."

Times Article Viewed: 4182
Published: 23-Dec-2001


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