MEAN is the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, a wholesale electricity supplier that services 69 communities across Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Wyoming, and the Arkansas River Power Authority.
MEAN’s contracts prohibit these communities from generating more than 5% of their own power, or buying power on the open market. — Every five years, federal law requires MEAN to prepare an Integrated Resource Plan, or “IRP”, that sets out opportunities for energy efficiency and conservation, projects future power needs, and looks at the alternative power resources available to meet that demand. MEAN is in this IRP process right now; our next chance will not be until 2027.
Now is the time to speak up, and the window to do so is short. Comments will only be accepted if they are received by MEAN at MEAN_IRP@nmppenergy.org by 4:00 pm on May 14, 2022.
BREAKING OUT WHAT THE IRP DOES AND DOES NOT STATE
There is also a significant economic advantage in the renewable sector; as fossil fuel prices increase, and renewable electricity prices decrease, we have begun to see less of an economic gain from investing in fossil fuels.
“Today, renewables are the cheapest source of power,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “Renewables present countries tied to coal with an economically attractive phase-out agenda that ensures they meet growing energy demand, while saving costs, adding jobs, boosting growth and meeting climate ambition.”
MEAN has adopted a “vision” of becoming “carbon neutral” by 2050. That is a long way off, after all of MEAN’s senior managers will be comfortably retired. MEAN is the least ambitious utility system in the region. It plans to keep burning massive amounts of coal past 2040, then somehow magically become “carbon neutral” by 2050. Two thirds of the MEAN directors have said that they want to establish an interim 2035 goal, but nothing has happened.
The draft IRP has another fatal failing: the “phantom generation plant.” The IRP announces (p. 40) that: “MEAN will proceed toward the recommended portfolio option(s) to address the impending need for capacity and energy. MEAN has initiated discussions with and has received proposed cost and performance data from developers [sic] and resource owners … for projects that align with MEAN’s needs.”
What are these “recommended options”? How do they “align with MEAN’s needs”? We will apparently not know until after the public comment period has run. It seems the recommendation–which might be a new fossil fuel plant, or a wind farm, or gerbils on treadmills–will be slipped into the final IRP and published after the comment period has run. (p. 213).
We urge you to speak up, and tell MEAN your ideas, whatever they are. Our own views are that:
There needs to be a fair chance for public comment (not short 3 minute time slots, or time periods);
We need to move faster than 2050 on getting away from coal;
There is a need for an interim goal, setting out how far we can get by 2035;
There is a need for a more robust evaluation of energy efficiency and demand side management as alternatives to new plants; and
MEAN should extend the comment deadline and allow robust comment on the “phantom plant” when it is announced.
Comments must be received at MEAN_IRP@nmppenergy.org by 5:00 pm CT on May 14, 2022.
The draft IRP can be viewed at https://www.nmppenergy.org/sites/default/files/public-files/mean-draft-2022-irp-vol-1_1.pdf
…………………BY, Sustainable Development Strategies Group
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this Opinion Column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any staff member, contributing writer, or the Lyons Recorder. The article is presented for the readers’ information and entertainment purposes.