Bioenergy, Wind Power

Nebraska Utility Seeks Public Input

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) gathered over 115 of its customers to conduct a day-long deliberative poll about the stateýs future energy options, and heard that the customers have a very strong interest in renewable resources.

Columbus, Nebraska – August 25, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] ýThe whole purpose of this conference is to get some feedback from our customers,” NPPD president and CEO Bill Fehrman said. “Because of our public power status, our customers own us. Every dollar we spend is a dollar they have to pay. Because we have some fairly significant investments coming up in generation facilities for the next many years, we are very interested in their opinions.” As part of the workshop, the customers divided in a series of smaller groups and received information about a wide range of energy supply options. After becoming educated, the participants filled out a survey. Full results will probably take a month to compile. Two examples of renewable energy NPPD is considering adding to its resource mix include 200 MW of wind by 2010 and 5 MW of generation from animal manure methane over five years. ýThe advantage of the deliberative polling process is to measure ýrawý opinionýor someoneýs initial reactions about a topicýagainst the same personýs opinion after he or she has become more informed about it,ý said Jon Trabert, NPPDýs marketing manager. ýI think this [deliberative polling] is an excellent process and educational tool,ý said Jan OýBrien, who participated in the dayýs events as a small group moderator. ýAbout one hundred people leaving today are leaving here more informed. Participating in the discussions and seeing othersý points of view is very helpful.ý The deliberative poll was one of the recommendations made by the Wind Energy Task Force, delivered in January, 2001. In that report, the Task Force made a request that the Nebraska Power Authority develop a business plan that would “strive to make Nebraska a leader in wind energy in five years.” Deliberative polls were first used by utilities in Texas from 1996-1998, and have been credited with paving the way for the strong renewable portfolio standard in that state, which has brought nearly 1,000 MW of new wind power online in the last few years. In those polls, customers responded that they were very interested in pursuing efficiency and renewables options both before and after they were educated about supply options.