Private renewable energy company exemptions approved

Senators passed a bill April 13 to encourage private renewable energy development—especially wind energy.

LB824, introduced by Omaha Sen. John McCollister, exempts private renewable energy generation facilities from certain laws that currently regulate facilities generating electricity.

The bill eliminates the requirement that a developer have a power purchase agreement—in which a customer agrees to buy most of a proposed facility’s electricity—before the facility is built. The bill also exempts a private developer from a requirement that it prove that a new facility would not create stranded assets. Finally, the bill prohibits other power suppliers from acquiring the private facility’s property through eminent domain.

To qualify for the exemption, a private company must notify the Power Review Board, which oversees most of the state’s electric generating facilities, at least 30 days before it begins construction. The company also must certify that it will pay for any decommissioning costs if the facility fails.

The bill contains provisions from LB914, introduced by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, that increase from $60 to $250 per day the compensation for the Nebraska Power Review Board member who represents the state on the Southwest Power Pool’s regional state committee. An appropriation of $19,000 in fiscal year 2016-17 and again in FY2017-18 is provided to the board to cover the cost.

After two hours of final-round debate, McCollister filed a motion to invoke cloture, or cut off debate and vote on the bill. It succeeded 34-11. Thirty-three votes were needed.

Senators then passed the bill 34-10.

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