Generation Options Analysis
NPPD is currently conducting a “Generation Options Analysis” to assess the benefits, costs, and challenges of its power plants today, as well as what resources it may use in the future. Current options include increasing NPPD’s use of natural gas and nuclear power, and adding more wind generation. Part of the analysis is the role of existing coal-fired generation including Sheldon Station near Hallam, Neb., and NPPD’s largest power plant Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland.
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- The Environment?
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Every fuel has its benefits and challenges. Read through the following, then give us your thoughts.
- Low-sulfur coal is a low-cost, dependable fuel produced close to Nebraska. However, new Environmental Protection Agency regulations may require NPPD to reduce the amount of power generated from its coal-fired plants due to the air pollutants that enter the atmosphere in the combustion process.
- Uranium is used at NPPD’s Cooper Nuclear Station to generate approximately 30 percent of the District’s power. Very little raw material can generate a lot of electric energy. Uranium is radioactive and is managed to protect the environment. As a result, the nuclear power industry is highly regulated and has received even more attention following the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami in March 2011.
- Wind power is a non-polluting well-proven technology perceived by some to be a replacement for both nuclear and coal, yet wind power is unreliable; its strength depends on local weather patterns, temperature, time of year and location; its equipment is also very expensive compared to other energy sources.
- Solar energy is non-polluting and well-suited to providing power in home or single building applications, but there is less energy on cloudy days and no energy can be produced at night. It also takes a large area to produce the energy needed.
- Natural gas produces less CO2 than coal or oil and its production can be throttled up to supply peak demand, but prices fluctuate with supply and demand and natural gas reserves are limited.
- Ethanol offers an alternative to fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but it does not transport well and increases pressure on food prices and livestock feed.
- Oil is the largest source of energy in the United States, however only a small percentage is used as a fuel for electricity generating plants. Burning oil for electricity has environmental impacts, but most public concern is for the drilling, transporting and refining of the energy resource.