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Report: Solar, wind energy has huge potential in state

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Nebraska wind and solar advocates said last week that renewable energy has the potential to supply almost 75 percent of the state’s needs.

A new report produced by the Wind Energy Foundation, Creighton University and Washington-based consultants David Gardiner and Associates said “significant cost declines” for electricity generated by wind and solar power is spurring development in Nebraska and nationwide.

The report found that the renewables industry is responsible for $1 billion worth of investment in Nebraska so far and has the potential to create as many as 44,645 construction jobs.

“Nebraska has a great opportunity to use its natural resources to generate affordable, reliable energy,” said Larry Hopp, director of Creighton University’s Energy Program, which prepares students for jobs in the wind and solar industries.

Renewable energy is set to be a larger part of the state’s output. With environmental laws phasing out coal-fired plants, Nebraska Public Power District says it already is close to reaching its 2020 goal of 10 percent of its energy with renewables, primarily wind. The Omaha Public Power District says it has a long-term goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from wind.

“Our research found that Nebraska has enough renewable resources to provide 73 percent of the state’s energy needs,” said Ryan Hodum of David Gardiner and Associates. “Maximizing the state’s renewable energy potential will allow Nebraska to power the state with homegrown energy.”

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