Coal will burn three years longer at OPPD’s North Omaha Station

As expected, the OPPD Board of Directors followed through with plans to delay the shut down of the final coal-burning units at the North Omaha station.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha Public Power District’s board of directors unanimously passed a resolution to extend the life of the coal-burning units at the 68-year-old North Omaha Station.

Three of five coal-burning stations were taken offline in 2016 and the remaining were due to be replaced in 2023 before looming snags in the permitting and approval process led to OPPD’s call for the delay. No exact date was given to reach this next step, with the end of 2026 the expected deadline. If under construction gas generating balancing stations at Standing Bear Lake and Turtle Creek go online as scheduled, the retirement of coal at the North Omaha Station could come by the end of 2026, if not sooner.

“In 2021 we emitted 4.2 million metric tons less than what we emitted in 2013,” OPPD president and CEO L. Javier Fernandez said. “You’re wondering what that means? Well, that is the equivalent, approximately, to the annual emissions of every single registered vehicle in our service territory.”

Resolution 6518 approves the delay of the transition but also recognizes what the community has been saying, before, during, and after this August OPPD board of supervisors meeting.

“Nothing’s gonna compensate for the three years of pollutants,” Nebraska Sierra Club’s David Corbin said both via internet during the proceedings and on camera after the meeting. “Its still the number one polluter in this area.”

No more broken promises, Corbin says. That’s what the community demands.

Building trust starts with the wording of this resolution, calling for regular engagement and action plan building with the North Omaha community.

”The next step is make sure that happens, and that it happens on a regular basis, not every six months or something like that,” Corbin said. He credits the board member representing his district, Eric Williams, with listening to the community demands for inclusion when the words were chosen for the resolution. The resolution includes several paragraphs addressing transparency and engaging with the community.

“We know emissions at North Omaha Station do have impacts, and we want to reduce the operations at North Omaha Station in any way that’s responsible, but also understand, from those impacts, what can we do serve our people best,” Williams said. “We don’t know the answers, but what we really need is community input on what steps should we take in the future.”

“I’m glad that they did listen to the public, but it’s not over,” Corbin said. “The public’s got a lot to say, and they need to take the time to hear that.”

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