The Cornhusker State Is Cooling On Coal

State Economy

The population of the “Cornhusker State,” Nebraska is approximately 1.99 million people[1]. Nebraska is the 37th most populated state in the United States.

In 2021, Nebraska’s economy was ranked 35th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the insurance, financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation industries[3].

Environmental Policies

Nebraska is one of only 13 states that has neither a renewable portfolio standard nor a renewable energy goal[4].

Power Generation Capabilities

In August 2022, utilities used coal (60.0 %), renewable energy (22.9 %), nuclear power (12.3 %), and natural gas (4.0 %) to generate electricity in Nebraska[5]. Wind and hydropower are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Nebraska.

In August 2022, the average cost of residential electricity in Nebraska was 11.73 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 15.85 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Nebraska include:

  • 443 MW Solar Project – American power company, NextEra Energy is continuing work on the Goldenrod Solar Energy Center at a site approximately 100 miles northwest of the state capital, Lincoln. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 305 MW Solar Project – In May 2021, Virginia renewable energy company, Apex Clean Energy commissioned the Big Allis Solar at a site approximately 80 miles west of Lincoln.
  • 300 MW Wind Project – In December 2020, French power company, EDF commissioned the Milligan I Wind project at a site approximately 25 miles southwest of the state capital, Lincoln.
  • 298 MW Wind Project – In March 2022, Danish power company Ørsted commissioned the Haystack wind project at a site approximately 90 miles north of Lincoln.
  • 250 MW Solar Project – Illinois solar company, Ranger Power is continuing work on a solar project at a site approximately 5 miles east of Lincoln. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2024.
  • 5 MW Solar + 1.0 MW Energy Storage Project – In June 2022, renewable energy company, Sol Systems commissioned a community solar plus energy storage project at a site approximately 90 miles northwest of Lincoln.


No commercial coal mines operate in Nebraska. Coal used to fuel electric power plants in Nebraska is brought by rail from Wyoming.

In 2010, 63.7 % of Nebraska’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[6]. In August 2022, 60.0 % of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease?

  1. EconomicsThe cost to generate power from coal is more than double the cost to generate power from renewables, like wind.
  2. Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[7].
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Nebraska has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including wind, solar and biomass. However, Nebraska’s utilities have been slower to move from expensive coal to renewable energy.

The economics of low-cost, reliable green energy are now spurring Nebraska’s electric utilities to move from fossil fuels to renewables. The Cornhusker State is now cooling on coal.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”


Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.

[1] Nebraska Population 2022, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] What Are The Major Industries In Nebraska? – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Nebraska State Profile and Energy Estimates

[6] EIA, Electric Power Sector Consumption Estimates, Nebraska 1960-2018

[7] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

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