There is always a need for energy, but people are beginning to show their desire for renewable energy sources.

Earlier this spring, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) began constructing a 35-acre solar array near Fort Calhoun. On March 19, OPPD offered shares to its residential customers. Within the first 49 days, all 8,403 shares were purchased, including 266 shares by 28 Washington County customers.

“This was kind of a test for us to see what kind of demand is out there,” said OPPD Product Specialist Tricia McKnight, who is leading the solar program.

Head east on Interstate 80 and you'll soon see large, white wind turbines popping up in rows like corn as far as the eye can see.

Iowa is a leading U.S. state in wind power generation. More than 37 percent of the state's electricity is generated through wind.

In addition to electricity, wind turbines generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, according to fact sheet released by the Center for Rural Affairs.

Added benefits from this renewable energy source include direct payments to landowners who host turbines, employment opportunities during construction and operation of a project and new spending infused into the local economy.

Renewable energy sources are important for the planet as they reduce emissions and do not harm our quality of life. The argument that fuels like coal keep energy affordable are slowly losing credence as the cost of renewable energies decrease.

While it will still be quite a while before we can wean ourselves off fossil fuels, energy companies like OPPD and MidAmerican are trying. The prospect of keeping energy affordable while keeping our planet clean should always be a priority.

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