LINCOLN — Turns out a renewable-energy barn near York, Neb., a key symbol of the fight against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, also uses coal-generated electricity to keep the lights on.
The Nebraska chapter of Americans for Prosperity, which supports the proposed pipeline, said Wednesday that Bold Nebraska's barn can't produce enough power from solar panels and a wind turbine to meet its electrical needs.
“Jane Kleeb and Bold Nebraska have a dirty little secret that's been exposed,” said Matt Litt, state director of AFP-Nebraska.
Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, said the barn was connected to a nearby transformer so it can draw energy as needed and let electricity flow onto the grid when it produces a surplus.
She predicted that over the course of a year, the barn will be a net generator of power.
“They're trying to discredit us, but we specifically did it this way because we wanted to provide energy to Nebraska's grid,” she said.
In five months since its September completion, the barn produced 93 kilowatt-hours of electricity while using 143 kilowatt-hours.
Those extra 50 kilowatt-hours of consumption were primarily generated by coal-fired electrical plants.
Nebraskans for Jobs and Energy Independence, another pro-pipeline group, obtained the barn's electrical consumption records from the public power district that serves the area, Litt said.
He pointed to a quote by Kleeb in which she said the barn would be powered 100 percent by renewable energy.
The Keystone XL would move 830,000 barrels of mostly Canadian oil daily from Alberta to a terminal in Steele City, Neb.
It is awaiting a 90-day federal review before President Barack Obama decides whether to grant it a permit to cross the U.S. border.
Opponents say the pipeline would threaten water supplies and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Supporters say it will provide jobs while importing oil from a friendly trade partner.
Last week, a Lancaster County district judge struck down the state law used to route the pipeline through Nebraska.
The decision is being appealed to the State Supreme Court.