New Wind Power Plant Feeds Omaha Utility

If you get power from the Omaha Public Power District, you’re welcome to feel a little more virtuous these days. Since November, the OPPD has been receiving the entire energy output – 60 megawatts (MW) when operating at full capacity – from the Flat Water Wind Project plant in the southeastern corner of the state.

The Flat Water plant consists of 40 1.5-MW GE turbines and was built by a partnership of Renewable Energy Systems Americas and Gestamp Wind North America. In a February announcement, the companies said construction wrapped up on November 15, 2010, which was a month ahead of schedule. Power began flowing to the OPPD at that time.

Flat Water Wind Project, Nebraska, Gestamp

image via Gestamp Wind North America

The utility is looking to get more wind power, too, through an agreement to buy up to 40.5 MW of generation from a 27-turbine plant under construction in Boone County, Neb. That plant is expected to putting out power by the end of the year.

Of course, as the utility noted, capacity figures for wind power plants aren’t a great guide to how much green power is actually flowing onto the grid: “A wind farm’s generating capacity is based on a constant wind that’s blowing strong enough to keep all of the farm’s turbines running at maximum. Because the wind does not blow constantly at a consistent speed, actual generation is less.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.