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Published Thursday
February 21, 2002

Enron may cause change in wind farm's direction



KIMBALL, Neb. - The financial collapse of energy giant Enron Corp. is
putting a snag in the development of Nebraska's first wind farm.

It may also hurt an Omaha-area company that was supposed to provide
the towers for the $12 million project.

Seven windmills are scheduled to be completed by this fall. An option has
been taken out on a site three miles northwest of Kimball.

Bob Selzer, a spokesman for Lincoln-based Municipal Energy Agency of
Nebraska, said officials are reconsidering the planned purchase of wind
turbines produced by an Enron subsidiary because of the parent
company's financial collapse.

It's unclear if Enron Wind of Tehachapi, Calif., can deliver the turbines,
Selzer said, as well as provide the long-range service for machines
designed to last 20 to 30 years.

He said Municipal Energy is also considering a turbine produced by
NEG/micron, a company from Denmark that produces its own towers. A
decision is expected before the scheduled groundbreaking in April.

"We want to make sure that whatever we decide, that we can, in fact, get it
and that they're a reliable source," Selzer said.

If Municipal Energy opts for the Danish turbines, it may rule out Valmont
Industries of Valley, Neb., as the provider of the windmill towers.

Valmont has begun manufacturing a unique, three-legged, 243-foot-tall
turbine tower that can be erected in more rugged locations than the
thicker metal towers now used. A demonstration windmill was erected
recently at the company's Valley headquarters.

But the Valmont tower was designed to hold Enron turbines.

Mark Treinen, vice president for business development at Valmont, said
the tower can be re-engineered for use with other turbines, but it may take
more time than is available for the Kimball project.

Enron's wind-energy subsidiary may be sold any day, Treinen said, which
may remove the uncertainty about the company.

"We're just kind of waiting to see what happens," Treinen said.

Selzer said an option has been taken out on two sections of land
northwest of Kimball as the site for the windmill farm, pending soil tests.
The site was chosen, in part, because it is far from the local airport.

The Kimball wind farm, at seven turbines and 10.5 megawatts total, would
triple the state's output of wind-generated electricity.

There are five wind turbines in Nebraska: two each near Lincoln and
Springview and the one at Valley.

Gov. Mike Johanns has been urging development of wind power.
Nebraska has the sixth-best potential for using the wind but is far behind
other states in developing it.
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