We invite you to join us in taking a stand for environmental justice and ensuring a fair and sustainable future for all residents of Omaha. Our community is at a pivotal moment, as the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) prepares to make significant investments in new generation projects that will shape our energy landscape for years to come. Please sign at the bottom to join us!!!
Dear Board of Directors,
We, the undersigned, are writing this petition to express our concerns and urge the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to prioritize environmental justice in its upcoming plans for new-generation investments. As engaged and concerned members of the community, we believe that OPPD has a unique opportunity to address the pressing issues of environmental justice and make a positive impact on the lives of its customers.
We commend OPPD for its commitment to building approximately 2000 megawatts (MW) of new generation, with 2/3 of it derived from renewable sources such as wind and solar. However, we are deeply troubled by the potential rate increases of approximately 10% over several years, in addition to other rate hikes, that will disproportionately affect low-income customers. These individuals are already burdened by numerous challenges, including inflation, substandard housing, pollution, and social justice issues. It is crucial to consider the adverse consequences that these rate increases may have on vulnerable communities.
Of particular concern is the fact that most of the new generation will primarily serve commercial and industrial development, especially data centers for major corporations such as Google and Facebook. It is disheartening to see the burden of financing these projects falling on the shoulders of low and moderate-income customers who are already struggling to make ends meet. This situation raises questions about the fairness and equity of OPPD's approach, as it appears that the profits of major corporations are being subsidized by those who can least afford it.
Furthermore, we cannot overlook the environmental and health challenges faced by OPPD's customers in the North Omaha area. These individuals bear the highest energy burden, resulting from a combination of factors such as lower average incomes and inadequate housing with inefficient heating and cooling systems. The North Omaha community also contends with elevated levels of air pollution from the coal plant and other environmental contaminants, leading to numerous health issues, particularly respiratory conditions like asthma. These challenges are rooted in a long-standing history of racial discrimination and inequitable policies that have disproportionately affected Black residents for generations.
While we acknowledge OPPD's pilot program aimed at addressing the energy burden faced by lower-income customers, we believe that more significant and sustained efforts are required. OPPD has the power to make a meaningful difference in the lives of its customers by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within communities burdened by high energy costs, such as North and South Omaha. By allocating funds toward these initiatives, OPPD can leverage federal resources, such as those provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as economic development funds from the state. The result would be a reduction in energy consumption, lower utility bills for residents, and safer, more comfortable homes. Such investments align with OPPD's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing the energy burdens faced by low-income customers, and fostering job creation and economic opportunities for the community.
We, the undersigned, call on OPPD to seize this opportunity to promote environmental justice by making tangible investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy in communities burdened by high energy costs. By doing so, OPPD can demonstrate its commitment to a more equitable and sustainable future for all. We believe that such actions would be a win-win situation for OPPD, the affected communities, and the environment at large.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we trust that you will consider our concerns seriously. We look forward to witnessing OPPD's leadership in the pursuit of environmental justice and its dedication to the well-being of its customers.
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