A Balanced Diet

Ainsworth Wind Energy Facility, near Ainsworth, Nebraska

A healthy electricity supply is the result of balancing costs and fuels. If you rely too much on one type of fuel, you can become vulnerable to unpleasant surprises.

Some utilities generate a lot of their electricity from natural gas. But natural gas costs are volatile, which exposes customers to increases in their monthly electric bills.

A growing number of utilities—including members of the Nebraska Power Association—are generating more electricity from wind turbines. Wind energy definitely has a place in our electricity mix. It’s clean, and the “fuel” it uses—the wind itself—doesn’t cost anything.

But the windiest parts of our state can be far away from highly populated metropolitan areas. That means transmission lines need to be built to carry the bulk of the wind-generated electricity from where it is made to where it will be used.

Hydroelectric power is another renewable resource with many positive attributes, but many of Nebraska’s rivers and reservoirs already have hydroelectric generators. There is little ability to expand this precious resource.

A bulldozer moves coal at the North Omaha Station, Douglas County, Nebraska

Coal is an abundant and relatively low-cost domestic resource, which is why most of the electricity generated within Nebraska comes from coal. NPA’s members operate clean and efficient coal-fired power plants that meet all federal and state emissions standards.  We do all we can to reduce emissions from these important base-load resources.

Nuclear power has low operating costs, but it is extremely expensive to build a nuclear power plant.

And many NPA members offer customers the opportunity to lower their electricity use by participating in voluntary conservation or efficiency programs. In many cases, a kilowatt-hour of electricity that is saved, rather than generated, is the least expensive of all electric options.

Nebraska’s utilities provide customers with electric service using a wide variety of technologies and tactics. Our members generate electricity from a variety of sources, including coal, nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar, hydro, and others. The different options reflect the costs and availabilities of different fuels as well as the costs to build and maintain the electric generators.

Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL)

Electric utilities, including members of the Nebraska Power Association, are increasing their reliance on renewable energy sources to lower future environmental costs and start moving down the path to a cleaner energy future. We live in the communities where we work, so we have a strong personal interest in energy sources that make sense for future generations to come.

As a public power state, Nebraska’s utilities are committed to balancing our customers’ needs for reliable power at a reasonable price with being good stewards of the environment.

Nebraska’s utilities and their customers have plenty of electricity today. But part of our job is to plan for tomorrow as well. It takes years to plan for and build a large new electric generator, whatever fuel is used. So, while we may not need more electric resources today, we are investing time and money now to plan for the next generation of electric generators.