Nebraska Republican seeks to hobble wind power by redefining it as not ‘renewable’

Yet Facebook is building a data center in Omaha because it can be run on 100 percent renewable wind

Storm clouds over  a Nebraska wind farm in September 2016. CREDIT: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Storm clouds over a Nebraska wind farm in September 2016. CREDIT: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Nebraska State Senator Tom Brewer (R) has proposed a new bill that would restrict wind power development in the state and end the designation of wind power as “renewable.”

The bill, introduced on February 2, would undo provisions the state has enacted in recent years to streamline wind power development. These same provisions have enabled the state to attract companies like Facebook to the state with the promise of low-cost 100 percent renewable wind power.

One provision in Brewer’s bill would redefine the term “renewable energy generation facility” by striking out the word “wind” from the list of designated facilities:

“Wind energy is not Nebraska Nice,” Brewer wrote in an opinion piece last October. “Wind energy is a scam that hurts people and animals, wastes billions in tax dollars, and isn’t ‘green’ energy by any definition of the term.”


In fact, wind power is one of the least polluting power sources available today — and thanks to smart government policies, it has become so cheap that building new wind farms with battery storage is now cheaper than running existing coal plants.

At a hearing for the bill Thursday, supporters repeated the claim that wind power harms people. But as one Nebraska newspaper pointed out the next day, “Iowa, which ranks third in the U.S. in terms of installed wind energy capacity, does not track complaints of this nature because scientists haven’t reported any diseases associated with living near a wind turbine.”

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) opposed Brewer’s bill noting that a key reason Facebook decided to build a huge data center facility in the area was the ability to power the center entirely with renewable wind power — in this case a new $430 million wind farm.

OPPD’s Tom Richards said the strategy of offering companies 100 percent renewable power had landed “a lot of national and international companies in the pipeline” for local job-creating projects.