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OPPD and NPPD approve wind farms

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The state's two largest electric utilities are proceeding with large wind energy projects.

The Omaha Public Power District on Thursday agreed to buy 200 megawatts from the Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center near Elgin, just west of Norfolk.

On Friday, Nebraska Public Power District agreed to buy as many as 75 megawatts of wind-generated electricity.

OPPD would start receiving power by Jan. 1, 2014, from the 120 wind turbines to be built on 25,000 acres in Antelope, Boone and Madison counties.

The turbines will generate power for about 60,000 homes, according to Chicago-based developer Invenergy. The total capital investment is about $350 million.

The wind power NPPD agreed to buy will come from an as-yet-unspecified wind farm, spokesman Mark Becker said. Previously, the utility was looking at buying power from Prairie Breeze or a project near Steele City in Jefferson County that hasn't been built yet.

A decision on its provider could be made as soon as next week, he said.

In other business, the NPPD board unanimously voted Friday to increase the amount of power generated at Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville in Nemaha County from 800 to 946 megawatts. The plant has a rated capacity of 800 megawatts. 

The increase in generation will require no additional facilities or employees, the utility said.

Becker said the project will require equipment upgrades that complement investments NPPD has made in replacing major components over the past several years.

“The 146 extra megawatts will help NPPD meet the additional load requirements we expect to have as early as 2018,” NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope said in a news release.

One of the key pieces of equipment to be replaced will be the plant’s high-pressure turbine, which was ordered in May.

NPPD will seek U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval to amend its license and approval from the Nebraska Power Review Board.

The project requires an estimated capital investment of $243 million, $60 million of which already is committed to modifications necessary to meet relicensing requirements NPPD agreed to in 2010. The NRC has extended the plant's operating license to 2034.



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