Continued Spending on Sheldon Station robs Ratepayers of Community Investment
Lyons, NE -Nebraska’s unique public power system was designed to keep electricity costs low and generate power in ways that benefit Nebraska ratepayers. According to analysis by the Center for Rural Affairs, continuing to fund the operation of outdated coal-fired power plants, like Sheldon Station, wastes valuable ratepayers dollars and prevents Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) from investing those dollars in energy generation that truly benefits rural Nebraskans.
“It is the responsibility of NPPD to generate and deliver low-cost energy to ratepayers and serve rural and small town Nebraskans,” said Virginia Meyer of the Center for Rural Affairs. “Continuing to invest in coal at Sheldon Station does not fulfill either of these responsibilities.”
According to research by the Center for Rural Affairs and Synapse Energy Economics, Sheldon Station, a 225 megawatt coal-fired power plant located just north of Hallam, Nebraska, is poised for retirement. Too old to produce more than 60 percent of the energy it was once capable of, Sheldon Station has quickly become a financial liability to NPPD and its ratepayers.
The Center’s research also predicts that NPPD ratepayers and those in the Lincoln Electric System, which contracts with NPPD for one-third of Sheldon Station’s capacity, will pick up the tab for hundreds of million of dollars in retrofit capital costs that would be necessary for Sheldon to comply with new environmental requirements. The environmental compliance obligations that Sheldon Station faces are significant.
Center findings also show that continuing to operate Sheldon Station as it has in the past will become uneconomical for NPPD and its ratepayers after 2020, incurring cumulative losses of over $1.3 billion by 2042. Continuing to burn coal at Sheldon Station will also prevent NPPD from investing in the very alternatives, like renewable energy and energy efficiency, that have the potential to produce considerable economic benefits in rural Nebraska.
“NPPD has the opportunity to invest in small towns and rural areas by building renewable energy projects that create new jobs and harness just a fraction of Nebraska’s wind energy generation potential,” Meyer explained. “Nebraska is missing a great opportunity to develop this inexpensive, abundant resource and provide the benefit of a thriving wind industry to our state.”
Nebraska ranks 7th among the states for energy consumption per capita, and consistently earns a low ranking for its efforts to use energy more efficiently.
“Reducing needlessly high levels of energy consumption will also save money,” Meyer continued. “We are missing a big opportunity to spend less money by simply consuming less energy.”
It’s time to make changes at Sheldon Station and invest in energy efficiency that saves Nebraskans money, and in clean, renewable energy that creates jobs and wealth in our communities, while protecting valuable natural resources, Meyer concluded. This is an opportunity Nebraska cannot afford to refuse.
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