Sheldon Station, Nebraska Public Power District’s coal-fired power plant north of Hallam, Nebraska, will soon undergo a major transition, moving from burning coal to hydrogen in one of the plant’s two units. A planned facility near the plant will produce the hydrogen and co-product carbon black from natural gas.
Nebraska has been waiting for energy leadership, and NPPD’s staff and board should be applauded for taking steps to invest in power sources that benefit the local community by creating jobs, while hopefully reducing the amount of harmful toxins released into the environment.
However, the plan for Sheldon Station is a job half-done. Center for Rural Affairs research shows that operating Sheldon Station as in the past would incur cumulative economic losses of over $1.3 billion by 2042 - costs that would shift to NPPD’s ratepayer-owners. Continuing to burn coal at Sheldon Station, in any amount, puts the pocketbooks' of NPPD ratepayers at risk, while preventing NPPD from investing in Nebraska’s vast renewable energy and energy efficiency potential.
We continue to urge NPPD to invest in these alternatives, which have the potential to produce considerable economic benefits in rural and small town Nebraska. And we urge NPPD to seek out more public involvement in future decisions like this. We all have a special responsibility to use only what we need and pass to our children the wildlife, water and natural resources that contribute so much to the Nebraska Good Life.
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