Nebraska has a bright future in renewable energy

Nebraska has a bright future in renewable energy. This cheap and clean energy can serve as a new driver for our local rural economies. When it comes to wind energy potential, Nebraska is fourth in the U.S. – in fact, the state could produce enough energy from wind to meet our needs 118 times over, or enough to power 511,000 average homes.

Despite this great potential, Nebraska continues to lag behind neighboring states in developing our wind energy resources. We are currently ranked 20th for installed wind energy. While Nebraskans work to catch up, local officials and developers should work to identify and address concerns that surround new projects and form standards that will work best for their communities. This local control over zoning has proven to work for many kinds of development, and maintaining it is the best way to ensure communities have a say.

But new legislation in the Nebraska Unicameral would strip some communities of their local control over wind energy. LB 504 would place a two-year moratorium on wind development in the entire Sandhills region, removing the ability of landowners and communities to responsibly develop wind in a large part of our state.

Communities stand to gain a lot from the development of wind energy: development provides new sources of income for landowners through land-lease payments; new temporary and permanent jobs are created to construct or service projects; and wind development adds new tax revenue to small towns and counties. However, to capture these benefits, developers and local officials need to work with community members to determine the best way to build projects to fit local needs.

By working together, Nebraskans can find a way to work toward reaching our renewable energy potential and realize the benefits that renewables like wind can bring to small towns and rural communities across the state.

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