Canaday Station

Canaday Station, located in Nebraska, was built in 1958. When it was built, Canaday Station generated 119 megawatts of electricity, which is low by today’s standards, but was then sufficient for Nebraska’s needs. It was also mostly self-sustaining, which contributed to cost-effectiveness. Today, Canaday is mostly used only as a back-up unit. If another plant is down or there’s a peak in the demand, Canaday Station can pick up the pace so there’s not a significant loss of power. The Nebraska Public Power District says that having the extra plant in operation keeps customers’ bills lower. Today, it’s one of America’s oldest power plants still in operation.

Canaday Station’s boiler burns both clean-burning natural gas and Number 6 fuel oil. It went into operation on May 31, 1958. The station is located northwest of Bertrand and southwest of Lexington. The site is located near water to keep plant’s condensers and natural gas lines cool. The discharged water is monitored to prevent environmental problems. Fifteen years later, the plant was automated going from four shifts down to two. This drastically reduced the number of workers needed to keep the plant running. In 1991, more updates were installed and today mostly computer-operated, so only fourteen workers are necessary. Between 1994 and 1998, the plant was temporarily out of service.

Canaday Station may have used asbestos for much of its construction because the mineral allowed the plant to heat the machinery for power generation safely. Although asbestos is useful because it’s a naturally-occurring mineral that can be separated into heat-resistant threads, it can cause serious illness, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. Insulation in the walls of power plants was often packed with asbestos to keep it from going up in flames. It was also used to cover many of the pipes and machinery to keep protect them from extreme temperatures since the high amounts of heat made everything incredibly flammable.

Although more modern power plants don’t use asbestos, Canaday Station was constructed during the time period when asbestos use was at its highest, and there is no record of the facilities having been abated. It’s possible this is one of the reasons the station used only as a back-up unit, in addition to the low amount of kilowatts of energy produced there. However, the plant is still monitored around the clock.


Nebraska Public Power District