Gov. Dave Heineman was in the northeast town of Bloomfield today for the groundbreaking of the state's first community-based wind project. The Elkhorn Ridge Wind Facility will have 27 wind turbines and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 25,000 homes.

"Today, we celebrate the official start of the largest wind energy project to date in Nebraska," Gov. Heineman said. "I want to offer my thanks and appreciation to everyone involved with this project, which will more than double Nebraska's wind power capacity and when completed will be the largest wind project in our state.

"This is an industry that is in the infant stage here in Nebraska, but it's one that holds real promise. Some of Nebraska's emerging and fastest growing industries are those in the field of renewable energy. Nebraska is building a comprehensive renewable portfolio thanks to recent investments in expanded ethanol research and production, new investments in biodiesel production, the construction of methane digesters, and new opportunities to harness the wind in powering our homes and businesses."

The facility is the first project to be developed using provisions contained in LB 629, which was passed during the 2007 legislative session. It allows Nebraska's publicly-owned utilities to purchase electricity generated by wind turbines owned by Community-Based Energy Development (C-BED) partnerships.

Public entities are not eligible for federal incentives encouraging wind power development and the bill was an important step in attracting new wind investments to Nebraska. Prior to the bill's passage, opportunities to develop wind projects weren't as economically feasible.

Gov. Heineman said, "The success of the C-BED bill is that it is helping encourage the kind of public-private partnerships that today are moving Nebraska's wind industry forward."

The Elkhorn Ridge facility will be the biggest wind farm in the state at 80-megawatts. Another C-BED venture recently announced by Nebraska Public Power District and Juhl Energy Development, the Crofton Hills Wind Farm planned for Knox County, will add 42-megawatts when it is completed next year. The Nebraska Energy Office reports current wind energy production in Nebraska to be 73-megawatts.