Nebraska and coal

From Global Energy Monitor


Nebraska had 15 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 3,204 MW of capacity, representing 42.8% of the state's total electric generating capacity; Nebraska ranks 32nd out of the 50 states in terms of coal-fired generating capacity.[1] In 2006, Nebraska's coal-fired power plants produced 21.1 million tons of CO2, 65,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 41,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 48.8% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, Nebraska emitted 24.6 tons of CO2 per person, about 25% higher than the U.S. average.[3]

There were no coal mines in Nebraska in 2006.[4]

Citizen activism


There is no history of coal mining in Nebraska.[5]

Nebraska is a strong coal energy producer, but all 15 coal-fired generating stations in the state are owned by public utilities.[1] However, the headquarters of Kiewit Mining Group - the 8th-biggest coal mining company in the U.S. - is located in Omaha. Also, in 1999, Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway bought a majority share in MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which produces coal energy both independently and through its subsidiary, PacifiCorp; thus, Berkshire Hathaway is a majority owner of the sixth-biggest coal energy producer in the U.S.

Legislative issues

Proposed coal plants


There are currently no proposed new coal plants in Nebraska.


There are currently no cancelled coal plant proposals in Nebraska.

Coal lobbying groups

Coal power companies

Existing coal plants

Nebraska had 15 coal-fired generating units at eight locations in 2005, with 3,204 MW of capacity - representing 42.8% of the state's total electric generating capacity.[6][7]

Here is a list of coal power plants in Nebraska with capacity over 400 MW:[6][8]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity
Gerald Gentleman Lincoln Nebraska Public Power District 1979, 1982 1363 MW
Nebraska City Otoe Omaha Public Power District 1979, 2009 1,212 MW
North Omaha Douglas Omaha Public Power District 1954, 1957, 1959, 1963, 1968 645 MW
Whelan Energy Center Hastings Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska 1981, 2011 324.3 MW

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Coal Waste

2010 report on coal ash waste and water contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Nebraska, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[9] The report mentioned Nebraska based Sheldon Station as having groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[10]

Coal ash to melt ice

On February 18, 2010 the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began using coal ash to melt the thick ice on the Platte River in Omaha, Nebraska, in an attempt to prevent ice jams and severe flooding. Bruce Nilles of the Sierra Club notes "This strikes us as a strange and dangerous move – one community is going to add coal ash to their water while many others are worried about how it will affect their water supplies." It is also argued that this use could continue as long as coal ash is not regulated by the EPA.[11]

In Feb. 2011, Nebraska officials said they are again debating whether to spread coal ash, despite its contaminants, on the Platte River to help break up 20-inch-thick ice into small pieces to prevent ice jams and flooding. It would be the second straight year, and only the fifth winter in three decades, that Nebraska resorted to using coal dust on the river, said Al Berndt, assistant director for the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.[12]

Major coal mines

There are no coal mines in Nebraska.[13]

Citizen groups

There are currently no known citizen groups working on coal issues in Nebraska.

Study questions coal-fired power plant job numbers

In a report released in late March 2011 by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies in Chattanooga, Tennessee shows that coal-fired power plants often do not reach predicted counts of construction and permanent jobs.

The Center analyzed the largest coal-powered plants that became operational between 2005 and 2009. At those six locations -- in Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Wisconsin -- analyses of employment data and labor retention rates showed that only the plant in Iowa had an increase in construction employment that matched the predicted level. The others did not reach the numbers predicted.[14]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. Nebraska Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, 1994 - cached copy at
  6. 6.0 6.1 Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  7. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  8. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  9. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  10. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.
  11. "Using Coal Ash to Melt Ice? Grist February 17, 2010.
  12. David Bailey, "Midwest's deep freeze likely to turn into wide floods" Today, Feb. 14, 2011.
  13. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  14. "Study questions coal-fired power plant job counts" Associated Press, March 31, 2011.


Existing coal plants in Nebraska

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