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Nebraska enjoys advantages of cheap coal power
We're all in favor of new alternative energy when it comes to generating electricity, but a new government report shows that Nebraska can thank one of the oldest sources for the cheap price we pay for power in this state.
Nebraska ratepayers, who depend mostly on coal-powered plants like Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland, pay an average of 6.58 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.
That means it costs 6.58 cents to run a 1,000-watt space heater for an hour in Nebraska.
That same heat costs the average American nearly a dime, 9.74 cents. You would pay 7.14 cents in South Dakota, 6.69 cents in North Dakota and 6.84 cents in Kansas. You'd pay 29.2 cents in Hawaii, although we doubt you'd need to use an electric heater that often.
Coal's impact becomes apparent in the fact that Wyoming, where Nebraska gets its coal, and West Virginia, which also has big coal deposits, have the cheapest power, at 5.67 and 5.61 cents per kilowatt hour, respectively.
Some environmentalists say there's no such thing as "clean coal," but major strides have been made in technologies to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants over recent years.
Yes, alternative energy needs to be pursued, and it's good to see that a wind project is being planned in our area. And, President Obama's embrace of nuclear power as a "clean" source of energy is a positive sign.
But the continued availability of cheap, reliable power from coal is an important tool in the effort to revive and expand Nebraska's economy.