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Renewable energy development bill passed by Neb. Legislature

Abill in Nebraska that would encourage private development in renewable energy,especially wind power, by altering some existing power regulations has passedthe state Legislature.

Senatorsvoted to pass LB 82434-10 on April 13 after two hours of final debate. The bill was presented to Republican Gov. PeteRicketts the same day.

Thelegislation, first introduced by Republican Sen. John McCollister on Jan. 8,removes the requirement that developers have a power purchase agreement inplace before a facility is built, and prohibits other power suppliers fromusing eminent domain to acquire property owned by the private facility. Privatedevelopers, under the measure, are exempted from a requirement that they provenew electric generation facilities would not create stranded assets.

Additionally,the bill, which advancedto a final reading on a voice vote April 7, appropriates $19,000 in fiscal year2016-2017 and the same amount in fiscal year 2017-2018 to the Nebraska PowerReview Board. The funds cover an increase in compensation for the member of theboard representing Nebraska on the regional state committee for the

InJanuary, proponents testified during a hearingin the Natural Resources Committee that the regulatory environment in Nebraskahas discouraged investments in wind power. Opponents at the same hearing saidthe bill would limit the Power Review Board's oversight of private companies.

Additionaldevelopment by private companies could lead to billions of dollars in capitalinvestment, high-paying jobs and more property tax revenue in rural parts ofthe state, according to McCollister.