Board members of NCORPE, the water augmentation project in southwest Lincoln County, have invited the developer of four northeast Nebraska wind farms to make a public presentation Monday in Curtis.
A representative of Invenergy will discuss the firm’s wind- and solar-energy projects during the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project’s 10 a.m. board meeting at the Curtis Community Center.
General Manager Kyle Shepherd said a public comment period will follow Invenergy’s presentation, which arises from his board’s ongoing interest in leasing part of NCORPE’s 19,500-acre pumping ground for renewable energy projects.
No lease proposals regarding renewable energy have been made or will be acted upon at the board’s meeting, Shepherd said.
Leaders of the joint project of four southwest Nebraska natural resources districts, he said, have explored renewable energy for most of NCORPE’s seven-year life.
“We’ve been approached by different companies throughout, and that’s why we’re putting out this information,” Shepherd said.
Invenergy, the developer of 150 renewable energy projects across four continents, has built and operated wind farms totaling 327 turbines since 2014 in Antelope, Boone and Wheeler counties.
The company also operates several wind farms in Iowa and near Casper, Wyoming, and Fort Collins, Colorado, according to Invenergy’s website.
No potential wind- or solar-energy lessees responded to a “request for proposal” that NCORPE issued in the summer of 2017, though two firms had inquired about possible leases earlier that year.
Shepherd said his board issued the RFP document so it could “compare those two offers apples to apples” with other potential lessees.
But because some federal renewable-energy tax credits expired at the end of 2017, the firms originally interested “ran out of time to make those offers happen,” he said.
NCORPE taps groundwater supplies once used for agricultural irrigation to help satisfy state and member NRDs’ legal water-supply requirements in the Republican and Platte river basins.
Adding alternative-energy suppliers to NCORPE’s potential lessees would help meet the project’s expenses, Shepherd said.
If NCORPE were to lease land for either wind turbines or solar panels, he said, the lease would have to guarantee that “anything installed around us or on our property could not interfere with our operations.”
Shepherd also acknowledged concerns about the possible impacts of planting wind turbines on sites that cannot handle them.
Because NRDs make up NCORPE, “they’d be very sensitive to the natural resources and protect the natural resources and also restore them if there’s damage,” he said.