Focus of OPPD Race Renewable Energy, Conservation


November 6th, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. — I sat down with Tom Barrett and Eric Williams, candidates for the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors in Subdivision 6, which covers the northeast and north-central portions of the city.

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Barrett, an incumbent in his first term, speaks to his dedication toward keeping rates steady and a move toward renewable energy, pointing to a project with Facebook’s new data center in Sarpy County that combines both of these aspects.

“I voted against the rate restructure because I thought it penalized people who were trying to conserve energy, [as well as] poor folks and we’ve moved to transparency,” Barrett says. “Under affordability comes planning, renewable energy, and having the right people in place to take advantage of economic opportunities.”

Williams, the challenger, says he has demonstrated a commitment to energy conservation in both his career and private life. Regarding the latter, he has installed solar panels on the roof of his home and has been driving an electric car for several years.

“My experience in energy policy, my leadership in my own personal life and through my community service, and my vision for the future of OPPD makes me the best candidate,” says Williams.

Barrett spoke with me about projects underway involving wind and solar energy, as well as a goal of his regarding a power plant in North Omaha should he be elected to another term.

“[Natural gas] is much healthier, but you’re still burning a fossil fuel,” he says. “It’s my goal to get rid of coal from the North Omaha plant on Pershing Drive during my next term if I’m re-elected.”

Informing and engaging constituents is key to public approval of renewable energy, says Williams.

“I think that when given sufficient information, people do want to save energy, they do want to protect their environment—it’s just that there’s a lack of understanding,” he says. “I think OPPD should have an increased amount of public engagement around these types of energy conservation and clean energy programs.”


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