Symposium to Discuss Wind Energy Development in Nebraska

East Campus pillars at enterance

Feb. 4, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — It's green, and it's clean.

Nebraska has excellent wind resources, and since the passage of LB1048 in 2010, there is potential for exporting electricity from wind farms, which means tax benefits, jobs and lease payments to landowners.

However, wind energy does have its issues.

Construction of wind energy can impact roads, landscapes and the natural beauty of an area, said John Hay, UNL Extension associate extension educator in biological systems engineering.

Hay is one of the speakers at a Feb. 12 symposium that will provide education and initiate a conversation on the appropriate siting of wind energy farms in Nebraska. The symposium will be at the Quality Inn and Suites' Sandhills Convention Center in North Platte from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Central Time.

Hay will present Wind Energy 101, which will cover equipment used and wind turbine installation considerations.

"The Sandhills is an area of interest for wind development due to the excellent wind resource," Hay said. "This has stirred interest in a fair and unbiased discussion about what responsible wind development could look like."

"Siting of Wind Energy in Nebraska" will provide information in a balanced pro and con format, representing various viewpoints important to landowners, rural communities and Nebraska's natural resources.

Caroline Jezierski, UNL, will discuss wildlife in Nebraska and the direct and indirect impacts that wind energy development can have on wildlife.

Direct impacts refer to fatalities, such as bird and bat collisions with turbines, she said. However, there also can be indirect impacts, such as habitat loss, species being displaced and construction noise.

"There are areas where wildlife would be particularly sensitive to wind energy development. So, it's good to be sure those actions are taken to avoid impact on wildlife and their habitat," she said.

Michelle Koch, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, will discuss Nebraska's Mitigation Process for Wind Development. She said while there are benefits to having clean, green energy, there can be serious effects to wildlife. That is why it is important that facilities are sited where they don't have impact on sensitive wildlife species.

"There certainly are a lot of places in the state where it can go with minimal impacts, but we do have places were there could be major impacts," she said.

Other presentations/topics include: Balancing Economic Development and our Natural Resources, Steve Williams, director, National Wildlife Management Institute; Wind Energy Development Plans in Nebraska, Pat Pope, CEO, Nebraska Public Power District; Nebraska's wildlife resource, Michael Forsberg, UNL; and panel discussion of landowner and local community perspectives led by UNL Extension Dean and Director Chuck Hibberd.

The one-day symposium is sponsored by the Sandhills Task Force, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Grazing Land Coalition, Western Nebraska Bank, World Wildlife Fund and the Sand County Foundation.

The symposium is open to the public. Landowners, farmers and ranchers, community public policy and business leaders are encouraged to attend.

Registration is $25. Walk-ins will be accepted. To register, visit go.unl.edu/windenergyconference.

For more information or questions about the symposium, contact UNL Extension at 402-472-2966.

Rick Koelsch
Associate Dean
UNL Extension
402-472-2966
rkoelsch1@unl.edu

Caroline Jezierski
Coordinator
Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research
402-472-8188
cjezierski2@unl.edu

John Hay
Associate Extension Educator
Biological Systems Engineering
402-472-0408
jhay2@unl.edu

Michelle Koch
Nebraska Game and Parks
402-472-5438
michelle.koch@nebraska.gov

Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service
402-472-3030
skarstens2@unl.edu