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North Omaha residents ask questions, voice concerns over OPPD power station's future

OPPD will soon vote to approve or reject a recommendation to delay the station's conversion to natural gas from coal
Posted at 8:31 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 09:31:20-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV)  — Sunday, OPPD board member Eric Williams held a town hall discussion with North Omahans as the board will soon decide what will happen to the North Omaha station.

Williams said the current plan is to convert two of the plant's five burners from coal to natural gas and decommission the other three. Doing so would reduce the total power output capacity from the North Omaha station.

The current plan calls for the transition to happen by the end of 2023, but the board is recommending extending that deadline to the end of 2026 to avoid the risk of service interruptions.

Williams said the board is facing a difficult choice.

"There are balances between environmental concerns, impacts on public health, and the costs and reliability on our customer owners," Williams said.

Some North Omaha residents felt the same way as the board over what should happen with the plant, while others disagreed.

"It’s two bad choices," John Pollack, resident said. "I think the least bad one is to extend the life of the plant from what I’ve heard so far."

"I’m interested in the environment," Bob Hess, resident said. "I think it’s a good idea that we’re not putting pollution in the air with the carbon dioxide and the mercury and the sulfur."

One North Omahan in particular finds himself at the center of the issue, saying either decision will impact his father or his son.

"If OPPD cuts out the electricity, [my son's] grandfather might have a health issue because he can’t breathe," Abdouli Abdoulaziz said. "If OPPD continues to have this electricity then my child might have asthma because of the coal that is being burned."

Abdoulaziz along with everyone at the meeting said no matter the decision, they’re glad to have this opportunity to be heard.

"The value of public power to people in our community is significant and the public engagements and transparency is a huge part of why public power is so good for our community," Williams said.

The OPPD board will vote to approve or reject the recommendation to delay the switch to natural gas in mid-August.

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