"EPA has suggested several things states could do to reach the targeted reductions," Knapp writes. "They could improve the plant’s efficiency—but (CEO Pat) Pope says Gerald Gentleman’s already operating efficiently. They could switch coal plants to natural gas—but (Nebraska Public Power District) says there aren’t enough pipelines in central Nebraska right now to do that. Or they could use more non-fossil sources, including renewables, like wind. But there are tradeoffs to that as well."
"NPPD spokesman Mark Becker says wind is less reliable than coal," Knapp writes. "Becker points to a computer showing that one of the district’s wind farms is generating about half of its maximum capacity, compared to 95 to 100 percent for the coal plant. It’s also still cheaper to generate electricity with coal—about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to 5 cents for wind, even after wind’s 2 cent per kilowatt hour tax subsidy. But developments like the EPA’s proposed carbon reductions could make burning coal more expensive."
"One other strategy suggested by the EPA would be for consumers to use less energy," Knapp writes. "Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality, working with the utilities and other state agencies, is supposed to come up with a plan which could also include other strategies, subject to EPA approval. But as NPPD’s environmental manager Joe Citta told Pope, his boss, the process is just getting started." Citta told Knapp, “We’re starting into a big coordination and unification process to see how we can make this work in Nebraska." (Read more)