The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) took major steps to address climate change last week. Their board set a zero net carbon goal for all operations by 2050 and voted to invest in 600 megawatts of solar, more than 10 times more than all the solar currently operating in the state. They also finalized the plans begun in 2014 for retiring the North Omaha coal plant.

The net result of these actions will reduce carbon emissions by 3 million tons per year by 2024. While there are concerns about making major investments in gas peaking plants at the same time and whether additional alternatives should have been considered, this is a big deal, particularly when other utilities in the state aren’t even willing to discuss goals for carbon reduction.

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light has been engaged in advocacy at OPPD for several years, beginning with the campaign retire the North Omaha coal plant in 2014. We have advocated carbon reduction goals, increased investment in renewable energy and support for energy efficiency programs, particularly programs to help low income residents.

There are several reasons these changes have happened at OPPD. The election of clean energy advocates to the OPPD board in the 2016 and 2018 elections was a major factor. Individuals and organizations engaged in advocacy for clean energy and carbon reduction goals is another significant factor. Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light appreciates the opportunities that we have had to participate in this process.

As one board member said, “Setting goals is the easy part. Doing the work to achieve them is the hard part.” Nebraska IPL looks forward to working with OPPD’s board and staff to help them achieve their goals.