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The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) plans to significantly increase the amount of renewable energy used to generate electricity to serve its customers. The utility anticipates that a substantial portion of that will come from wind. At the same time, the OPPD will vigorously pursue efforts to reduce the demand on its system through energy-efficiency programs offered to customers. Officials say the two actions could delay the need for a new generating plant for more than 10 years.

The goal of obtaining 10% of electricity from wind by 2020 means adding approximately 400 MW of renewable energy to OPPD's portfolio of power. Around 118 MW of that will come in the next two years in the form of additional wind generation, 38 MW of which already is on order. OPPD currently has or is contracted for about 55 MW of renewable wind and landfill gas generation at its disposal.

"We do not know that all of our new renewable additions will be wind, but it is safe to say that wind energy will play an important role for us in the future," says OPPD President and CEO W. Gary Gates.

Officials say among the factors making this decision possible were changes in state law, such as passage of the community-based energy development legislation by the Nebraska Unicameral, which has made it attractive for private groups to develop renewable energy projects. That has helped make renewable energy more cost-competitive.

In addition, OPPD officials say it will work to reduce customers' electricity usage by 50 MW by the end of 2012.

SOURCE: Omaha Public Power District

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