Some Omaha community groups are urging OPPD to phase out coal power and invest in more renewable energy production through wind and solar power.
The Sierra Club, Malcolm X Foundation and other groups presented a petition with more than 900 signatures on it to the Omaha Public Power District on Thursday. The groups are especially concerned about OPPD's north Omaha coal plant and its effect on the health of people who live nearby.
Causing premature deaths and heart attacks as well as being responsible for more than $100 million in health and environmental cost are just a few of the things the Clean Air Task Force has accused OPPD of.
Candice and Trever Graver live in the shadow of the 50-year-old power plant and are concerned about the smoke that comes out of the stacks. “I think it would be nicer if it were clean coming out of there, especially with the parks being so close,” said Candice.
“We'll see them release smoke in the night, it’s our conversation piece, it really does make you wonder what they are releasing over there,” said Trever.
Retired nurse Cynthia Tiedeman worries the pollutants emitted by the coal plant can irritate neighbors' throats and lungs.
“We want that plant closed, we want that coal to stop killing our children and to stop the high asthma in the community,” said Richard Ventry.
OPPD said the plant is old but safe and it complies with all state, local and federal laws. Change is coming, but it will take time.
“There are impending regulations that may have us look at the plant directly in the future,” says OPPD’s Tim Burke. “We'll be doing some testing of new technology and reduce some of the emission, improvement that we’ve seen over the past 15 years at our north Omaha station.”
Over the years OPPD has worked to reduce emissions from all of its power plants. The power company will also continue to look at ways to produce more carbon free energy. OPPD said it relies on the north Omaha coal plant to help it meet the power demands of more than 300,000 customers in southeast Nebraska.