Bill to Support Wind Energy Passes in the Nebraska Legislature

Nebraska, an also-ran so far in the race to develop wind energy, took another step Wednesday to try to catch up with the pack.

On a 38-2 vote, state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill granting sales tax breaks to wind farms. Proponents said the measure would make the state competitive for projects that are now going to Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, where such breaks are already offered.

Passage of the wind measure, Legislative Bill 104, sets up a potential fight with Gov. Dave Heineman, who has pledged to veto the bill.

The governor has objected because the bill is primarily aimed at persuading a Kansas company, TradeWind Energy, to build a $300 million wind farm near Allen, in northeast Nebraska. The governor has said that Nebraska families deserve tax breaks first, not out-of-state companies.

But that veto pledge may be complicated by an amendment tacked onto the bill at the urging of State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. That clause rescinds Omaha’s authority to impose an extra half-cent of local sales taxes, something Heineman has supported.

So it leaves the governor in a difficult spot