The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Emily Rosenwasser,, 312-251-1680 x119

NPPD to Cease Burning Coal at Sheldon Coal Plant Unit 2 Outside Lincoln

Sierra Club Urges NPPD to Commit to Full Shift Away from Coal Through Clean Energy Investment in Wind, Solar and Energy Efficiency


Today, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) announced it would cease burning coal at Unit 2 of its Sheldon Station coal-fired power plant in Hallam. NPPD will now burn a new hydrogen fuel at Unit 2 of the coal plant while continuing to burn coal in Unit 1. Built in 1958, Sheldon Station sits just south of Lincoln near the town of Hallam. The plant is owned and operated by NPPD and has contributed to air and water quality issues for the surrounding community.

"Starting the shift away from coal is an important first step for NPPD to reduce its pollution," said Graham Jordison, Field Organizer with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign in Nebraska. "However, the fact remains that NPPD will continue to burn coal from a unit at the Sheldon coal plant. We have proven low-cost, job-creating clean energy potential like wind and solar right here in Nebraska, and NPPD should have considered this through a robust public process of comparing zero-carbon alternatives. We urge NPPD to continue what it started today and complete a thorough evaluation of its opportunity to invest in modernizing the way we get our power by committing to shift away from coal to clean energy."

NPPD customer-owners face high costs for the utility to import coal every year. NPPD is still heavily dependent on coal-fired power plants, and according to a Union of Concerned Scientists report, Nebraska already ranks fourth in the nation in coal imports per capita, spending $203 each year on imported coal for every man, woman and child in the state.

According to a recent Omaha World Herald investigation, Nebraska's rates have soared in recent years while rates in neighboring states like Iowa drop.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory, Sheldon Station is the second largest source of toxic pollution in Lancaster County, and accounts for more than a third of Lancaster County's toxic pollution. According to a detailed investigation by the New York Times, Sheldon Station committed 147 Clean Water Act violations between 2004 and 2008, the fourth highest number of violations of any power plant in the nation at that time, suggesting persistent and unabated water pollution from the plant.

The industrial process for producing the new hydrogen fuel is new, with questions remaining around air and water emissions, energy intensity and the cost of the project as it relates to other zero-carbon energy resources.

"As other states embrace clean energy like wind and solar and see big cost-savings, rates for Nebraskans are going up," said Jordison. "If NPPD's coal unit conversion at Sheldon Station is truly state-of-the-art, we expect meaningful public engagement around the plant's new pollution permits. Sierra Club is encouraged that NPPD is ready to invest in zero-carbon energy resources, but NPPD must compare an experimental technology like the one at Sheldon head-to-head with well-proven wind, solar and energy efficiency. Careful and responsible energy investments are among NPPD's highest duties."

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world.

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