Representatives for local utilities said they paid close attention to the president's climate change speech and are keeping watch for any policies that could affect their operations.
Several said they've already made progress on expanding their use of renewable sources to generate power — and plan to continue with those efforts.
The Omaha Public Power District set a goal of having 10 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. It's already ahead of that schedule, on pace to reach 15 percent by next year, spokesman Mike Jones said. He said that OPPD has been working to reduce its carbon emissions for more than two decades but that it's too soon to comment on any potential new rules.
Renewable energy is also becoming increasingly important for the Nebraska Public Power District. About 8 percent of the district's energy is generated by renewable sources.
“People don't realize that 40 percent of our energy resources are non-carbon-emitting,” NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said. “That's a combination of wind, hydro and nuclear.”
The Metropolitan Utilities District pointed to the president's mention of natural gas and noted its own growing use of the fuel. The district now has 250 vehicles on metro-area roads that use compressed natural gas.
MUD President Doug Clark said his organization “looks forward to working with the City of Omaha and surrounding communities to mitigate air pollution” and meet federal standards for air quality.
A MidAmerican Energy spokeswoman referred questions to the Edison Electric Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based association of electric power companies. That group said its members will want to make sure any new policies intended to cut carbon emissions from power plants will “contain achievable compliance limits and deadlines and minimize cost to customers.”