This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
I’d also like to note my appreciation for OPPD setting a renewable energy goal and for bringing more wind energy into its portfolio in recent years. I am a resident of Nemaha County and recently graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University. As a nearby resident of the new Flat Water Wind Farm, I can see the benefits it has brought to the area, and everyone I know is a big supporter of the project. In fact, everyone that I have ever spoken to about the need to expand wind energy in general throughout our state is supportive. It makes sense to me and 94% (according to a recent poll by the Center for Rural Affairs) of Nebraskans to more heavily invest in wind and solar, two resources we have massive potential in but have so far not taken great advantage of. Pundits and politicians on all the major national news are constantly talking about the need for energy independence in the United States. But I rarely hear Nebraska’s elected officials, particularly those who have been elected to our Public Power Boards, talk about how Nebraska could not only gain energy independence for itself but also help push the nation onto that path. OPPD can do so much more than obtain 10% of its energy supply from renewables by 2020, as can all utilities in this state. The weak extent to which we have developed our valuable, clean natural resources is actuality reprehensible. Instead of developing the natural resources in this state, OPPD, NPPD, and LES have all decided to maintain reliance on imported coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin under the guise that coal is the cheapest form of energy. But OPPD has increased its rates year after year, and coal is not getting cheaper. This means electricity consumers like me are facing a double layer of unfairness: our rates are going up and we aren’t getting our electricity from the sources we want—remember that 94% of Nebraskans support expanding wind power. Wind and solar are the sources that will spur economic development in Nebraska. In addition to wind farms like Flat Water, a model of renewable resource development that I especially think OPPD should support is smaller scale, community-based energy development. OPPD’s support of Community-Based Energy Development (C-BED) projects in the district would mean that the utility would be directly helping to spur economic growth in these communities and developing a good reputation among rate-payers who want renewable energy and who want to play a part in its development. Coal is the fuel of the past. Market forces have been driving the price of coal up as worldwide demand for energy grows and global coal reserves dwindle. Assuming both have the same energy output, building a wind farm is now more economically viable than building a new coal plant. The policies of President Obama reflect the greater public’s desire that externalities such as detrimental effects on public health are taken into account, shutting many coal plants down. Burning coal for electricity means OPPD is responsible for the premature deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses that come as a result of the pollution from burning that fossil fuel. The science on the matter is not conflictual. As an energy consumer in your district, I’m asking you to please use renewable energies like wind and solar to meet the demands of the consumers in your district. When you read the notice saying the North Omaha coal plant, or the Nebraska City I coal plant, or the Hallam coal plant needs to either be shut down or retrofitted, vote to shut them down. Retrofitting these coal plants won’t be worth the money because 1) retrofitting is exorbitantly expensive and 2) it won’t make your ratepayers happy. And rather than wait for all those notices to come, be proactive in moving toward the sustainable sources of energy of the future: wind and solar. In the event that transitioning to these sources would cost me more on my electric bill every month, I would be
more than willing to pay that added cost because I want to see the energy sources that will ensure I will have a healthy and prosperous future: wind and solar. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Chelsea Johnson