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Home > About Us > News/Events

2011 News Releases


December 2011

OPPD Warns Customers To Be on the Lookout for Scam Artists - 12/22/11

OPPD 2012 Rates to Remain Below Average - 12/16/11

November 2011

OPPD Employees Raise $20,500 for Energy Assistance Program - 11/17/11

OPPD Moves Forward on Reliability Effort in Sarpy County - 11/17/11

OPPD Names New Division Manager of Human Resources - 11/01/11

October 2011

Third Planet Windpower Announces Commissioning of Its 40.5 MW Petersburg Wind Project - 10/31/11

OPPD to Partner with Nebraska City Utilities on New Project - 10/13/11

OPPD Building Attains Platinum Level of “Green” - 10/04/11

September 2011

OPPD "Appy" as Customers Pass Milestone - 09/29/11

OPPD Approves New Bond Sales - 09/15/11

OPPD Society of Engineers Names First “Engineer of the Year” - 09/08/11

OPPD Takes Responsibility to Improve Performance at Fort Calhoun Station - 09/06/11

OPPD Takes Another Step in Flood Recovery - 09/02/11

August 2011

OPPD Workers to Assist Hurricane Irene Victims - 08/29/11

OPPD Nuclear Plant Exits “Notification of Unusual Event” - 08/29/11

Refrigerator Artwork Goes on Display - 08/25/11

OPPD Hopes New Electric Vehicle Project Provides Answers - 08/18/11

OPPD Accepts Honor, Credits Customers - 08/11/11

OPPD Reaffirms Status as SPP Member - 08/10/11

OPPD Sets New Peak Demand Record - 08/02/11

July 2011

Waste from Portable Toilets Pumped into Flood Waters - 07/18/11

The 11th in ’11 Not the Result of Luck - 07/14/11

OPPD to Spend $14.5 Million on Emissions Control Contract - 07/14/11

FCS Worker Suffers Burns - 07/01/11

June 2011

NRC Activates Incident Response Center for Fort Calhoun Station - 06/26/11 (PDF, opens in new window)

News Release - 06/26/11

Floodwater Flowing into Sewage Lagoon at Fort Calhoun Station - 06/23/11

OPPD Names Sherrye Hutcherson Vice President - 06/22/11

Omaha Public School District Earns OPPD Energy-Efficiency Award - 06/16/11

OPPD Acts to Ensure Flooding Concerns Addressed Quickly - 06/16/11

Wastewater Bypass Put in Place at Fort Calhoun Station - 06/16/11

OPPD’s Christianson is 2011 Economic Development Professional of the Year - 06/14/11

Joint Information Center Activated, News Release No. 3 - 06/07/11

Joint Information Center Activated, News Release No. 2 - 06/07/11

Joint Information Center Activated, News Release No. 1 - 06/07/11

OPPD Declares Notification of Unusual Event - 06/06/11

OPPD Invites Public Input on Power Plan - 06/01/11

May 2011

More Wind for OPPD Customers - 05/19/11

Brand New Course & Car Highlight Power Drive© Finale - 05/04/11

Watt Detector a Hit - 05/04/11

April 2011

OPPD Gives Groups Greenery Grants - 04/29/11

OPPD Moves Closer to Changing Membership in SPP - 04/14/11

Fort Calhoun Station Off Line for Maintenance and Refueling Outage - 04/11/11

OPPD Annual Report Highlights Employee Creativity - 04/07/11

Education Workshops Center on Energy Efficiency - 04/03/11

OPPD In-Lieu-of Tax Payments Approach $27 Million - 04/01/11

March 2011

Statement from OPPD - 03/31/11

Calling All Refrigerator Artists - 03/30/11

OPPD Streamlines Energy-Efficiency Steps - 03/17/11

OPPD Tree Efforts Earns National Honors - 03/10/11

February 2011

OPPD Reintroduces Refrigerator/Freezer Recycling Program - 02/28/11

OPPD Prepares Tariffs To Save Money - 02/17/11

OPPD to Offer Grants for Cutting Energy Use - 02/14/11

New Nebraska Wind Farm To Be Dedicated - 02/14/11

January 2011

OPPD Names John Herman as Division Manager - 01/25/11

OPPD Prepares for Electric Vehicles - 01/19/11

OPPD Names James Foley as Division Manager - 01/19/11

OPPD Acts To Minimize Impact of the Unexpected - 01/13/11


OPPD Warns Customers To Be on the Lookout for Scam Artists

December 22, 2011

This time of year usually brings holidays, good cheer and plenty of good will toward our fellow men and women. Unfortunately, it also brings out a few people unconcerned about those things, people who instead view this time of year as a prime opportunity to steal. That is why the Omaha Public Power District is reminding customers to be leery of scam artists pretending to be OPPD employees demanding money or personal information.

In the last few weeks, a number of customers in the metropolitan area have reported being approached by strangers falsely claiming to work for OPPD.

In two incidents, the “bogus” employees repeatedly telephoned customers claiming their monthly check for service had either not been received or was unsigned. The caller or callers then demanded bank account or credit card information from the customers and the supposed “overdue” cash payments. The callers threatened the customers with disconnection if they did not comply with the demands immediately. In both cases, the customers refused.

In another incident, an individual claiming to be from OPPD walked into a business unannounced and demanded that the store needed to pay its electric bill, which was now “delinquent,” on the spot or service would be immediately disconnected. The fake employee refused to produce any identification and eventually left the business empty-handed.

OPPD stresses that none of these individuals who demanded cash payments or credit card information work for the District and that residential or business customers should always ask for identification or verification when a stranger claims to be from the utility company.

In some cases such as these, in addition to money or financial information such as bank account numbers or credit card information, imposters may demand other personal information such as Social Security numbers or even a driver’s license number. In the past, they have also asked whether customers have home or business security systems, even requesting they turn the systems off to “help out” the utility.

OPPD reminds customers that they should never give out private or personal information to strangers making these sorts of demands either in person or over telephones at any time of year including the holidays. They should also refuse to turn off their security systems simply because a stranger asks them to do so. Any customer who receives such a call is advised to call local law enforcement. Meanwhile, if a customer has a particular question about payment or their account, that customer is advised to always call OPPD first before giving anything to a stranger either over the telephone or in person.

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OPPD 2012 Rates to Remain Below Average

December 16, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has a new budget for 2012. That budget reflects the impact of a year marked by a summer of flooding, an unexpectedly strict new Environmental Protection Agency rule, and continually escalating health care costs.

Missouri River floodwaters forced the utility to spend tens of millions of dollars to protect its power plants and other assets. The District used $32 million from its Rate Stabilization Reserve fund to pay for increased fuel and purchased power expenses associated with the flooding. In order to mitigate the customer impact, the Reserve fund will be replenished over a three year period, with $12 million collected in 2012 rates and the remaining $20 million to be collected in 2013 and 2014. Non-fuel and other flood related costs are being paid from company revenues, insurance proceeds and anticipated reimbursement from federal emergency funds.

The new EPA rule gave OPPD only six months to meet new regulations, resulting in the purchase of ultra-low sulfur coal at approximately a 40 percent premium and reducing the profitable sale of electricity to other utilities.

As a result OPPD was forced to propose a 4.5 percent general rate increase and a 1.4 percent increase in the Fuel and Purchased Power Adjustment. That translates to an overall average retail revenue increase of 5.9 percent. Those rates were approved December 15, 2011, by the OPPD Board of Directors. They are slated to go into effect January 1, 2012.

Overall, the increase means an estimated $5.30 increase in the average residential bill. Even with the increase, OPPD’s rates will remain 6.3 percent under the regional average and 24.3 percent under the national average.

“We were fortunate to be able to utilize the rate stabilization reserve to help moderate the impact on our customers,” said OPPD President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Gates. “We are committed to find ways to operate more efficiently while keeping the lights on throughout the district as we did while facing the flooding this year.”

The Corporate Operating Plan approved by the board December 15 included projected operating revenues of $1.08 billion and operations and maintenance expenditures of $798.2 million. The 2012 Capital Expenditure Plan totals $197.2 million, approximately $28.1 million less than will be spent in 2011.

In other action, the Board:

  • authorized management to award a contract to CG Power Systems USA Inc. of Washington, Missouri, for $493,036 for a 67-13.8 kilovolt transformer plus spare bushings and monitor.
  • approved a resolution to express the District’s intent concerning Corporate Operating Plan expenditure reimbursement from tax-exempt financing.
  • approved an amendment to the district’s charter to change election subdivision boundaries to reflect results of the 2010 census.

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OPPD Employees Raise $20,5000 for Energy Assistance Program

November 23, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has wrapped up its sixth annual Energy Assistance Program (EAP) online auction and the real winners will be those who need help paying their bills or meeting their energy needs next year. This year’s auction raised a record $20,500 for the EAP fund which is administered by the Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross. Judi Martin, OPPD Community Support and Consumer Relations Coordinator, said the auction which ran from November 10 – November 17 included 358 items. The items were donated by OPPD employees and hundreds of local area businesses. Among the most highly-prized items was a framed, autographed jersey signed by Nebraska’s three Heisman Trophy winners, Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier and Eric Couch. The jersey fetched $570 as the winning bid. EAP assisted more than 1,200 households in southeast Nebraska last year and Judi said the fund is expected to assist well over that total in 2011.

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OPPD Moves Forward on Reliability Effort in Sarpy County

November 17, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District Board took another step in preparing for growth in southeast Sarpy County today by purchasing some equipment for a future substation. The Board authorized management to buy a 161 kilovolt – 13 kilovolt transformer, a monitor and spare bushings from CG Power Systems USA Inc. of Washington, Missouri, for $602,701. The new substation will be located at 27th and Platteview Road in Bellevue and is necessary to maintain the high level of electric reliability in the area while accommodating an increasing number of customers to the area.

Grading recently began on the property, which was purchased following an extensive public input process involving nearby residents, public officials and other stakeholders.

The Board also took public comments on a proposed increase in electricity rates for 2012. The average retail increase of 5.9 percent has been proposed based on cost increases primarily in three major areas; new environmental regulations, increased costs for additional fuel and purchased power associated with the flood and extended Fort Calhoun Station outage, and the rising cost of health care. The public can continue to provide comments through OPPD’s website,

In other action at its monthly meeting, the OPPD Board of Directors:

  • authorized management to award a contract to Capital Electric Line Builders, Inc., of Riverside, Missouri, to rebuild part of a 69 kilovolt power line that crosses the Platte River between Valley and Yutan. The contract is for $773,514.
  • approved management to negotiate and enter into a contract with ABB, Inc. to furnish new hardware for the distributed control system for Nebraska City Station Unit 1.
  • approved the Board of Directors meeting schedule for 2012.

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OPPD Names New Division Manager of Human Resources

November 1, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has announced the appointment of Martha L. Sedky as Division Manager of Human Resources, effective October 17. In her new position, Mrs. Sedky assumes overall responsibility for OPPD’s Human Resources Operations, Human Resources Administration, Human Resources Services and Human Resources Compliance, as well as Human Resources Nuclear and Corporate Diversity and Advocacy.

Ms. Sedky joins OPPD with more than twenty years of experience in the Human Resources field including several leadership positions. She served most recently as Human Resources Project Director for Kansas City Power and Light in Kansas City, Missouri.

Ms. Sedky holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Nazareth College, both located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has also earned the certification of senior professional in Human Resources.

Prior to joining OPPD, Ms. Sedky served on the board of directors for the Folly Theater and Newhouse Domestic Violence Shelter in Kansas City, Missouri.

She and her husband, Sherif, have two children.

Mart Sedky

Marth L. Sedky

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Third Planet Windpower Announces Commissioning of Its 40.5 MW Petersburg Wind Project

October 31, 2011

PETERSBURG – Third Planet Windpower (TPW) and Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) celebrated the addition of more wind power to OPPD’s generating portfolio by commissioning a new Petersburg wind project. The project resulted from almost 5 years of cooperative effort between the community, OPPD and TPW. The Petersburg wind project is one of two large-scale wind farms commissioned in Nebraska this year.

The project has 27 GE turbines and will supply enough electricity each year to provide the needs of approximately 12,000 homes. When the wind is blowing at optimum speed, the new farm will generate 40.5 Megawatts (MW) of electricity. A megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts. Energy from the Petersburg wind project will be sold to OPPD and distributed to their customers over the next 20 years.

Nebraska’s top two executives, Governor Dave Heineman and Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy, were on hand for the ceremony as were representatives of OPPD, Nebraska Public Power District and other community leaders.

Former county commissioner, merchant, and resident Hank Thieman commented, “Rural economic development needs more of this type of win-win project. The impact is immense and we will see the results for decades to come. I envision many housing opportunities and job creation through the county. The tax base in Petersburg and the entire county will benefit from the environmentally friendly wind farms.”

OPPD also is buying all the power from the other wind farm commissioned in the state this year, a 60 MW operation in Richardson County. OPPD has pledged to use renewable energy to provide 10 percent of the electricity it sells to its 350,000 customers by the year 2020.

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OPPD to Partner with Nebraska City Utilities on New Project

October 13, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has voted to join Nebraska City Utilities (NCU) in beginning work on a new project that both utilities say will mean cost benefit and future development. NCU has initiated plans to build a new gas main extension for its existing natural gas distribution system. The new line will provide natural gas to an area south of Nebraska City that currently does not have access to natural gas, including OPPD’s Nebraska City Generating Station.

At its monthly meeting, OPPD’s Board of Directors authorized management to enter into agreements with NCU for the construction, operation and maintenance of the gas main extension. The two utilities are working together on the design and construction of the main. After construction, NCU will own and operate the main.

The planned extension will tap into NCU’s existing system west of Nebraska City and run to OPPD’s power plant south of town.

OPPD has wanted a way to deliver natural gas to its generating site since the station went online in 1979. The new line will allow the District to use natural gas to start the fires in its boilers instead of the fuel oil it now uses. This could save OPPD customers an estimated $2 million to $4 million a year. Natural gas also is more environmentally-friendly as a startup fuel than fuel oil.

Nebraska City Utilities customers will benefit as NCU says the project will strengthen the utility’s overall natural gas distribution system and should significantly increase economic development possibilities for the area. It will also give local residents and companies the ability to tap into the new main as NCU will offer farm taps to property owners that provide easements.

The schedule calls for installation of the new gas main to begin next year and gas will start flowing in 2013.

In other action at its monthly meeting, the OPPD Board of Directors:

  • authorized management to negotiate and enter into a contract for maintenance and equipment project services for OPPD generating stations.
  • approved amendments to its bond provisions.
  • authorized management to award a contract to McArdle Grading Company of Elkhorn, Nebraska, for $1,016,682.31, to prepare a site at 27th and Platteview Road in Bellevue, Nebraska, for a new substation.

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OPPD Building Attains Platinum Level of “Green”

October 4, 2011

Omaha can now boast a new “super-green” building. OPPD’s Omaha Service Center has been certified as a LEED Platinum building. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Platinum is the highest certification level available. The center becomes Nebraska’s third LEED platinum-certified building.

The center is located on Lindbergh Drive near Eppley Airfield and was built to replace a facility that is now University of Nebraska Medical Center property on Saddle Creek Road.

Developed by the United States Green Building Council, LEED benchmarks make up a nationally recognized third-party certification system that verifies a building was designed and built to:

  • Improve energy- and water-efficiency
  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions
  • Improve indoor environmental quality
  • Demonstrate good stewardship of resources

Features that contribute to OPPD’s newest service center reaching the pinnacle of green performance include a 60-kilowatt (kW) array of solar panels, a 1.2- kW vertical-axis wind turbine, the extensive use of recycled and local construction materials and windows designed to take full advantage of daylight to reduce interior lighting requirements.

“We are asking our customers to build tighter, better, greener buildings,” said Sherrye Hutcherson, OPPD Vice President of Essential Services. “In this way we are doing what we are asking and we now have experience in the process we can pass onto them.”

Building its newest building with an eye toward the environment is part of OPPD’s commitment to sustainability in its operations.

Additional Omaha Service Center Green Features

  • Solar-tracker photovoltaic unit, which turns to follow the sun
  • Ground-loop heat pump system
  • Recycled and local construction materials
  • Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and floor coverings
  • White polymer membrane roof to reflect heat and reduce cooling costs
  • Storm-water control and retention
  • Water-efficient landscaping
  • Low-water-use toilet fixtures
  • Reserved parking for hybrid vehicles and capability for recharging plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles
  • Bicycle racks

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OPPD "Appy" as Customers Pass Milestone

September 29, 2011

One thousand and growing daily…

That’s the number of downloads the new mobile application OPPDconnect has generated since it became available for download to members of the public on June 1. The free mobile app marked the beginning of a new era for Omaha Public Power District customers by offering them an additional channel to report power and streetlight outages, to access various residential products and services or simply contact any OPPD office. The free app is designed for the Apple® iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®.

OPPD employees developed OPPDconnect, making the utility the first in Nebraska and one of the first in the nation to have such a mobile app. In addition to reporting outages and accessing services, customers are also able to use OPPDconnect to view the power outage map on the utility’s website; view energy-efficiency tips and videos; find an office location on a map; and view OPPDcares tweets.

OPPDconnect continues to be available for download free from the App Store, which is accessible via the Apple devices noted above and through iTunes®, or use the QR code in the PDF below. .

OPPDConnect Tops 1000 This PDF, which opens in a new window, is included to assist with receiving the QR code

You may also download the app, or learn more about it through

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OPPD Approves New Bond Sales

September 15, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors has authorized management to sell up to $300 million of 2011 or 2012 Series Electric System Revenue Bonds (Authorized Bonds) to refund existing debt and/or fund a portion of the district’s capital program. The move is expected to allow the district to take advantage of historically low tax-exempt interest rates should they continue to exist in the future.

According to the measure approved by the board, the district will be able to issue one or more new series of Authorized Bonds upon acceptable market conditions. The bonds will be traditional tax-exempt bonds. Proceeds from the bond sale would be used to refund existing debt and any previously authorized increase in the amount of Commercial Paper Notes outstanding. This could allow substantial savings for OPPD customer-owners. Any new debt issued would be used to fund the capital program outlined in the district’s Corporate Operating Plan and the district’s five year financial plan.

The Board will receive quarterly updates on the status of Authorized Bonds.

The Board also authorized an increase in the amount of commercial paper notes outstanding for the district. The increase raises the current Commercial Paper Program from $150 million of commercial paper notes outstanding to $200 million. Management recommended the increase because additional liquidity of up to $50 million may be needed on a short-term basis due to any delay in recovering some of the cost of recent flood mitigation and recovery efforts.

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OPPD Society of Engineers Names First “Engineer of the Year”

September 8, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Society of Engineers has named a man who has a history of creating green, sustainable buildings as its first-ever Engineer of the Year. The OPPD Society of Engineers honored Ed Thiele, a senior project engineer in the Facilities Management division.

Mr. Thiele’s most recent project was overseeing the construction of the new, very green, Omaha Service Center. The new building opened this year just north of Carter Lake.

The University of Nebraska paid for most of the construction as part of an agreement that has it taking over the previous site of the service center, near Saddle Creek and Leavenworth Street in Omaha. Mr. Thiele oversaw the construction of the new site, including the addition of various sustainable and renewable energy aspects. OPPD expects to attain at least LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold status for the new building. Mr. Thiele has led numerous tours of the building during and after construction to show the various sustainable aspects of it.

In 2006, Mr. Thiele oversaw OPPD employee-volunteers who built a super energy-efficient home for Habitat for Humanity. The home utilized numerous new insulation and energy-saving techniques to allow OPPD to study their effectiveness. Later that year, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the home ENERGY STAR status.

Mr. Thiele received the Engineer of the Year award last week. He is a 31-year OPPD employee. The OPPD Society of Engineers has approximately 450 members.

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OPPD Takes Responsibility to Improve Performance at Fort Calhoun Station

September 6, 2011

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) officials today committed to improving performance and processes at Fort Calhoun Station. The commitment follows the District’s mid-year performance report received from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In a letter, regulators state that Fort Calhoun Station will receive additional oversight over the next year and that the agency has moved the plant to Column 4 in its Reactor Oversight Process. The columns serve as measurements for plant performance. Despite the decision for additional oversight, the NRC also noted, “Fort Calhoun Station operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety.”

The additional oversight comes as the power plant emerges from safely withstanding the longest-duration flooding of any nuclear power plant in U.S. history. OPPD crews have been successfully battling elevated river levels along the Missouri River since June 6. OPPD officials said the NRC’s announcement today was unrelated to this summer’s flooding. The District also says the issues raised by the NRC have validated the District’s plan to improve of how it operates the plant.

“We take this very seriously,” said OPPD President and CEO W. Gary Gates. “While our employees performed admirably during the recent Missouri River flooding, we know that we must find ways to constantly improve and change our organizational speed to address issues that come with running a plant.”

OPPD already has launched a special initiative to improve the performance of the plant. Mr. Gates said a detailed analysis of recent station performance, plus input from outside agencies such as the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), found specific areas that needed improvement. One example cited by the analysis noted that plant personnel need to consistently and thoroughly evaluate various plant conditions with an eye to improving the response time and the rigor in addressing changes.

Addressing conditions before they become problems was at the root of a “white finding,” one of two findings noted today by the NRC.

The white finding is the agency’s second lowest adverse classification and indicates a low to moderate safety concern. The white finding referred to an electrical component (a contactor) in the plant’s control system that failed during testing, although there were several backups to the component that remained in working order. OPPD has since replaced the component and all of its backups.

The other finding still pending is a “yellow finding.” The yellow finding is more safety significant than a white finding in the NRC’s process. This finding deals with flood procedures and whether they would be effective. Those measures were later corrected and contributed to the plant’s successful protection of the station this summer. OPPD had notified the NRC that it was ready to be inspected to clear this finding, but the summer flooding intervened.

Mr. Gates stated, “Like many businesses have done as they strive for improvement, we need to constantly evaluate and evolve how we do business so we run our plant more efficiently tomorrow than today.”

“Our goal at OPPD is to continually look at ways to provide our customer-owners with safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally-sensitive energy,” Gates concluded. “We are committed to resolving these regulatory issues and building on the improvement actions we have already taken at Fort Calhoun Station.”

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OPPD Takes Another Step in Flood Recovery

September 2, 2011

Another step has been taken in the flood recovery efforts of the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). OPPD today received a Confirmatory Action Letter from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) committing the District to actions in its own flood recovery plan that the utility must complete prior to restarting the Fort Calhoun Station. The letter is the latest step in the post-flooding recovery process for the plant which earlier this week exited emergency status due to spring and summer flooding on the Missouri River. The flooding emergency action level (Notification of Unusual Event) was initially issued on June 6.

The confirmatory action letter follows consideration by the NRC of a detailed post-flooding recovery plan submitted in writing by OPPD to the federal agency last month. That plan serves as a roadmap to actions that OPPD intends to take to ensure the plant can safely resume operations. The NRC’s letter confirms its acceptance of the action items in the OPPD’s recovery plan while establishing certain actions as priorities. Those priorities must be completed before restart. The letter also sets timelines for the completion of those actions.

OPPD Chief Nuclear Officer Dave Bannister said while the confirmatory action letter lists several items that must be accomplished before restart, the utility remains committed to completing all of the major items in its recovery plan before restart.

“Our intention is that we will be able to restart in the coming months, however, we will not compromise on safety for the public or our workers. That means we absolutely will not restart the plant until we can ensure that it is safe to do so,” said Mr. Bannister.

Issuance of a confirmatory action letter does not preclude the NRC from issuing additional requirements if it believes it is necessary.

OPPD’s Post-Flooding Recovery Action Plan is accessible through the NRC web site.

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OPPD Workers to Assist Hurricane Irene Victims

August 29, 2011

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) crews will be heading east to assist the power restoration efforts of electric utilities in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The storm knocked out power to millions of customers as its high winds and flood-producing rains moved up the east coast.

OPPD intends to send twelve line workers and a supervisor to Binghamton, New York, in the south central part of the state. The utility NYSEG had about 132,000 customers out of power when they contacted OPPD. Their website this morning reports “nearly 2,500 wires down and nearly 200 broken transmission and distribution poles across an area the size of Connecticut.”

The trip will be the longest that OPPD crews have traveled to render mutual aid. It will be about the same distance as they traveled to help utilities near New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

This will mark the first time OPPD crews have not driven their own vehicles. The crews will be flown to New York and use equipment provided there. Crew expenses, including the flight, and wages will be paid by NYSEG.

OPPD officials anticipate the crews will be gone a week or more.

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OPPD Nuclear Plant Exits “Notification of Unusual Event”

August 29, 2011

      The Omaha Public Power District announced today that Fort Calhoun Station has exited the “Notification of Unusual Event” status it entered on June 6, 2011. Missouri River levels have dropped to around 1,003 and one-half feet above mean seal level (MSL) as of 1:42 p.m. CDT when OPPD notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its exit. That is below the 1,004-foot level, above which Fort Calhoun Station will not operate. Current trends show the river level continuing to fall, giving assurance that it will remain below the 1,004 foot level even in the event of a sudden rainstorm.

      OPPD officials discussed the situation with local, state and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials prior to exiting the event classification.

      Fort Calhoun Station shut down on April 9, 2011, for routine refueling. It was in cold shutdown when it entered Notification of Unusual Event status. After this declaration, the Missouri River continued to rise, as more and more water was released from upstream dams.

      The river surrounded the plant for much of the summer, but decreasing river levels have since allowed OPPD to begin taking down elevated walkways. Workers also are deflating and storing some of the temporary aqua berms that were set up to protect the plant and other buildings on site. In total, the plant was in a declared emergency for just over 84 days.

      Currently, the vast majority of the plant site is dry. Exiting the classification does not mean the plant is ready to start producing power right away.

      “We have a great deal of work to do before we start generating power,” said Dave Bannister, OPPD Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer. “First and foremost, we must check for any hidden damage that the water on site may have caused, so that we are certain we will operate safely.”

      As the water has drained away from the site, workers and contractors have started checking for damage. They have found no significant damage so far. Until they can complete extensive investigation of the site, OPPD cannot accurately say how much damage the flooding caused or when the plant will be restarted.

      OPPD has submitted a detailed plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the steps it will take prior to starting up the plant.

      “Exiting the Notification of Unusual Event classification is one of our milestones, but only an early one,” said Mr. Bannister. “We have always operated Fort Calhoun with the safety of the public and our employees as our top priority. We will continue to do so.”

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Refrigerator Artwork Goes on Display

August 25, 2011

Is it art? You bet! And the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) thinks the message is one that not only art lovers will appreciate.

Today, OPPD unveiled the fruits of labor for five artists who took up a challenge issued by the District this past March to use an old refrigerator as their canvas (or sculpture). The objective was to increase awareness of energy efficiency and recycling and to help promote OPPD's refrigerator recycling program. This is the second year for the program where OPPD will haul away old, inefficient refrigerators or freezers for free and pay the customer $35. The program proved hugely successful last year as OPPD customers recycled 2,500 refrigerators. The District is hoping for a similar number this year. The program which runs through the end of October has recycled 1,550 refrigerators to date in 2011.

The five selected green-theme art projects were placed on display Thursday at various locations in Omaha’s Old Market. The artwork will be displayed eventually at various other locations throughout Omaha.

p<> The projects selected for display in the Old Market were “Big Earth, Small World” by Machell Owens, on display at 11th and Jackson; “Time Capsule” by Sarah Rowe, at 13th and Jackson; “Under the Pot, A Stand or Not” by Charlene Potter at 12th and Howard; “Let’s Play House” by Paul Konchagulian at 10th and Howard; and “Refrigerarium” by Liz Vercruysse, located at 11th and Harney.

The Refrigerator Recycling program is another of OPPD’s efforts to promote sustainability as well as energy efficiency. The District has once again contracted with JACO Environmental to remove the appliances from customers’ homes, then dismantle and recycle them. Old refrigerators use up to four times more electricity than new ones. They can easily add up to $150 to your electric bill. Under the program, 95 percent of the refrigerator’s materials are recycled. The overall benefit from removing one refrigerator is equal to taking two cars off the road for one full year.

Anyone wishing more information or wanting to set up an appointment to have your old working refrigerator collected and recycled should call 1-866-444-9160. Information is also available on the website at

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OPPD Hopes New Electric Vehicle Project Provides Answers

August 18, 2011

If you are a new car buyer excited about the prospect of buying a new electric vehicle (EV), one thing you might want to know is the best way to keep that vehicle charged and ready to hit the road. The Omaha Public Power District hopes to provide its customers a few answers to that same question. That is one of the reasons the District is participating in a new demonstration project.

OPPD has been selected as one of more than 40 utilities across the North America that has received and will be test driving a Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle manufactured by General Motors.

OPPD has been selected as one of more than 40 utilities across the North America that has received and will be test driving a Chevrolet Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle manufactured by General Motors.

The demonstration project, sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and General Motors, will gather information regarding such things as driving behavior and charging information while giving utilities like OPPD more hands-on experience with this type of EV. The overall objective of the project is to prepare the utility industry for adoption of Plug-In Electric Vehicles and to provide the technological foundation for integration of the vehicles into utility metering and other grid systems.

With the number of electric vehicles expected to increase in this market in the coming months, OPPD has been working for some time to become a key source of information for local consumers interested in purchasing an EV. Earlier this year, the District launched a new website to provide the most current EV information for those interested; information ranging from charging options and environmental benefits, to the latest incentives and a readiness checklist for potential purchasers. The website is

Not considered a hybrid vehicle, the Volt operates solely on electricity for its first forty miles when the battery is fully charged. When the battery becomes depleted, an engine kicks in to power a generator that sustains the battery charge, extending the car’s range up to another 260 miles.

Both OPPD and EPRI will be collecting data from the project. EPRI also plans to issue a report about vehicle specifics as well as regional and national data for all the cars in the program.

The program is made possible with a grant of $30.5 million from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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OPPD Accepts Honor, Credits Customers

August 11, 2011

Residential customers of the Omaha Public Power District think the utility is one of the best in the nation. In fact, they rate it the highest among all midsize utility companies in the Midwest when it comes to service and value. The results are found in the 2011 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study recently released by J.D. Power and Associates.

The accomplishment led the California-based marketing information services firm to honor OPPD by formally presenting the J.D. Power award to the District’s Board of Directors. The presentation was made Thursday night during the board’s monthly meeting for August. OPPD becomes the only midsize utility to receive the award eleven years in a row. Midsize utilities are defined as those serving between 125,000 and 499,000 residential customers. OPPD serves more than 350,000 total customers with more than 300,000 of those being residential.

Board President John Green and OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates accepted the award. Both noted they were grateful for the confidence customers have placed in the utility’s ability to continue to exceed customer demand, especially given events over the last few months. The District’s three main generating stations have been coping since June with unprecedented flooding along the Missouri River.

The survey performed by J.D. Power measures customer satisfaction with their utility companies in six key areas. Those areas include Customer Service, Communication, Price, Power Quality and Reliability, Billing and Payment and Corporate Citizenship. OPPD ranked first in its segment in all six categories.

In other board action on Thursday night, the Board of Directors also approved an updated of Statement of Investment Policy for the OPPD Retirement Plan.

The board meeting was held Thursday night because Directors periodically schedule evening meetings in an effort to make it more convenient for customers to attend in order that they can observe and meet with board members. Monthly meetings are normally held at 10 a.m. on the first Thursday after the tenth of each month.

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OPPD Reaffirms Status as SPP Member

August 10, 2011

After discussions lasting sixteen months, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP) today announced that OPPD would continue its status as a transmission-owning member of SPP. The decision keeps OPPD in the same status

Because of changes made to SPP’s method of allocating the costs of transmission

OPPD worked with SPP over the summer to consider upcoming transmission projects in SPP’s expansion plans, SPP’s three-year review of its Highway/Byway cost allocation methodology, and SPP’s Integrated Marketplace program.

“We believe that being a transmission owning member of SPP will provide our customer owners with many benefits,” said OPPD President and CEO W. Gary Gates. “Having a stronger transmission system will increase reliability and will provide a broader access to energy markets.”

Mr. Gates added that active participation in the SPP Integrated Marketplace will increase OPPD’s flexibility in being able to provide reliable, cost-effective power to its customer-owners.

According to SPP President and CEO Nick Brown, “We are pleased that OPPD continues to see the value of SPP membership and the SPP stakeholder process, and we will certainly do our part to live up to OPPD’s expectations. Our regional electric grid will benefit from OPPD’s continued participation in our wholesale energy and transmission service markets, transmission planning processes, and energy reserve sharing group.”

As part of its commitment, OPPD intends to participate in SPP’s regional allocation review task force and work for approval of new transmission projects that benefit OPPD and Nebraska.


Omaha Public Power District is a customer-owned utility serving over 346,000 customers in all or parts of 13 counties in east and southeast Nebraska.

Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a group of 64 members in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas that serve more than 15 million customers. Membership is comprised of investor-owned utilities, municipal systems, generation and transmission cooperatives, state authorities, wholesale generators, power marketers, and independent transmission companies. SPP's footprint includes 48,930 miles of transmission lines and 370,000 square miles of service territory. SPP was a founding member of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation in 1968, and was designated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) in 2004 and a Regional Entity (RE) in 2007. As an RTO, SPP ensures reliable power supplies, adequate transmission infrastructure, and competitive wholesale electricity prices. The SPP RE oversees compliance enforcement and reliability standards development. Read more fast facts or watch a video about SPP.

For More Information: 

OPPD: Jeff Hanson 402-636-3755 email 
SPP:Emily Pennel 501-614-3337 email 

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OPPD Sets New Peak Demand Record

August 2, 2011

Monday’s sweltering temperatures and high relative humidity had many air conditioners across the area working in overdrive yesterday. As a result, Omaha Public Power District customers set a new record for peak electricity usage.

Unofficial numbers show that the average peak demand for OPPD customer-owners hit 2,474.4 megawatts (MW) between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday. That shattered the previous official record of 2,402.8 MW set last year on August 12.

OPPD serves more than 350,000 customers in 13 counties in southeastern Nebraska.

There are a number of ways to conserve energy and save on your energy bill while continuing to stay cool during the current heat wave.

  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. A one-degree increase can save 3 to 5 percent on energy.
  • Keep window shades and blinds closed to block direct sunlight.
  • Clean or change your system’s air filter monthly to save energy and help prevent system failure.
  • Use ceiling fans to enable you to raise your thermostat about 4 degrees, with no reduction in comfort.
  • Turn off fans when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.
  • Seal cracks and other openings in your home to minimize air leaks.
  • Learn about OPPD’s Energy Audit Home Air Leakage Test.

OPPD offers these and other energy efficiency tips on its web site: You can also visit Aim Green Omaha which is also accessible from the OPPD web page, or the U.S. Department of Energy site for additional tips.

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Waste from Portable Toilets Pumped into Flood Waters

July 18, 2011

During the flooding at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station, all sewage pumping ability was lost for a few days and portable toilets were used. For sanitary and safety reasons, approximately 200 gallons of sewage from portable toilets was pumped into the Missouri River on July 18, 2011. A grinder was used to pump the waste to the circulating water discharge point, diluting it as quickly as possible. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has been notified of this event.

Previously,rising water from the Missouri River has begun flowing into a sewage lagoon at Fort Calhoun Station. A partial bypass was recently put in place to divert water that had leaked into a sanitary wastewater lift station, allowing the continuation of most of the flow to the sanitary lagoons. The water overtopping the sewage lagoon this week will be considered a continuation of the previous bypass issue by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

A sign has been erected in the area around the Administration Building advising personnel to stay clear of the discharge that is occurring. For health and safety reasons, all individuals are cautioned to avoid contact with any flood water.

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The 11th in ’11 Not the Result of Luck

July 14, 2011

Omaha Public Power District customers voted their electric utility the best in its class for the 11th year in a row, according to the latest news release from J.D. Power & Associates. In the latest survey of residential customer satisfaction, OPPD again topped all competitors in the mid-size Midwestern utility category. This makes it 11 years in a row OPPD has won the award for highest residential customer satisfaction in its class.

“On behalf of the entire utility, I offer a sincere thanks to our customers for this honor,” said OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates. “We work very hard to make customer service a high priority at OPPD, and we greatly appreciate that our customers recognize and have acknowledged our efforts.”

Mr. Gates noted the award comes at a time when the utility has been putting a great deal of effort in protecting at least $3 billion in assets from the flooding Missouri River.

“Our employees have been putting in lots of time to keep our power plants and other equipment safe from the flooding, all while keeping the lights on for our customers throughout our thirteen counties,” Mr. Gates said.

The 2011 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 98,000 online interviews, conducted from July 2010 through May 2011 among residential customers of the 124 largest electric utility brands across the United States, which collectively represent more than 93 million households.

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OPPD to Spend $14.5 Million on Emissions Control Contract

July 14, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors voted today to extend a contract to buy an estimated 100,000 tons of a lime-based substance that is used to remove sulfur from flue gasses for the next two years. At its monthly meeting, the Board authorized management to extend a contract with Mississippi Lime, of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, for two years to provide an estimated 50,000 tons per year of pebble quicklime. The lime-based substance is used in the scrubbers of Nebraska City Station Unit 2.

The cost is estimated at $7 million for the first year and $7.5 million the second year, depending upon usage.

Nebraska City Station Unit 2 went on line in 2009 and is the most efficient of the District’s generating plants. It was designed to include the most up-to-date air emission and environmental controls. The District remains committed to clean energy as well as effective environmental stewardship while meeting the needs of its customers.

In other action, the board authorized management to negotiate and enter into a contract to replace damaged switchgear equipment at the Fort Calhoun Station.

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FCS Worker Suffers Burns

July 1, 2011

At 2:23 p.m., June 30, a worker at Fort Calhoun Station was burned while refilling the gas tank of a portable pump outside the security building.

The pump caught fire and the employee sustained burns to his arms and face. He used a fire extinguisher he had with him to put out the fire. Emergency personnel took him outside the plant where a medical helicopter picked him up. He was flown to a burn center in Lincoln.

The name of the worker has not been released.

The security building is currently surrounded by a sand-filled barrier to keep river water out  it. The pumps are necessary to remove water that seeps under the barrier. At no time was the plant in danger. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified of the incident.

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News Release


June 26, 2011

At approximately 1:25 a.m. Sunday, June 26, the aqua berm providing enhanced flood protection for Fort Calhoun Station was deflated due to onsite activities. The plant is secure. At no time were the fuel cooling systems lost.

The plant, basically, is in the same situation it would have been in had the extra layer of protection of the aqua berm not been added. It is designed to withstand waters up to 1014 feet above mean sea level (MSL). The river level currently is at 1006.3 feet MSL and stable. River levels are not expected to exceed 1008 feet MSL.

Flood gates and additional sandbagging around the plant were in place many days ago.

As a precaution, per plant procedure, the operators started the diesel generators and temporarily disconnected from off-site power. Plant operators later reconnected to off-site power once all safety checks had been completed. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission personnel stationed onsite for flood monitoring have been informed.

FCS remains in its current emergency classification of Notification of Unusual Event due to this high river level. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko plans to visit the site tomorrow.

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Floodwater Flowing into Sewage Lagoon at Fort Calhoun Station

June 23, 2011

Rising water from the Missouri River has begun flowing into a sewage lagoon at Fort Calhoun Station. A partial bypass was recently put in place to divert water that had leaked into a sanitary wastewater lift station, allowing the continuation of most of the flow to the sanitary lagoons. The water overtopping the sewage lagoon this week will be considered a continuation of the previous bypass issue by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

A sign has been erected in the area around the Administration Building advising personnel to stay clear of the discharge that is occurring. For health and safety reasons, all individuals are cautioned to avoid contact with any flood water.

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OPPD Names Sherrye Hutcherson Vice President

June 22, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has announced the appointment of Sherreye L. Hutcherson as vice president of Essential Services effective July 1. Ms. Hutcherson replaces Adrian J. Minks who is retiring. The appointment was approved by the OPPD Board at its monthly meeting in June.

In her new position, Ms. Hutcherson will oversee Facilities Management, Human Resources, Information Technology, Material Management, and Sustainable Energy & Environmental Stewardship.

Ms. Hutcherson has served in a number of important managerial positions since she began her career with OPPD in 1999 in Economic Development. In 2000, she was promoted to division manager of Market Research & Product Management, overseeing mass-market power quality solutions for customers and load-shaping opportunities for OPPD. In 2004, she was named division manager of Customer Solutions, where she was given the additional responsibility for large commercial and industrial products and services.

In 2007, she was named division manager of Human Resources. In that position she developed a strategic and customer-focused business model with a motto of “It’s All About People.” She devised the plan for creating a Succession Planning Model for executive and critical position replacements; executed a strategic and competitive philosophy around critical jobs and executive compensation; and developed a Strategic Recruiting Plan by engaging executives and college alumni from OPPD.

Ms. Hutcherson is an active community member, serving on the boards of directors of the Omaha Children’s Museum and the Urban League of Nebraska. She is a member of the Human Resources Association of the Midlands. She has co-chaired the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign and the ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference for metropolitan Omaha, as well as serving on ICAN’s board of directors. She has been named one of Ten Outstanding Young Omahans, as well as Distinguished Service Award Winner, and was named by the Midlands Business Journal as a “40 Under 40” recipient.

Ms. Hutcherson has earned an MBA from Creighton University in Omaha, graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and holds professional certifications in human resources, economic development, and business retention and expansion.

She and her husband, Wes, are the proud parents of first-grade twins, Maya and Miles.

Vice President Sherrye Hutcherson

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Omaha Public School District Earns OPPD Energy-Efficiency Award

June 16, 2011

For Omaha Public Schools’ long-standing commitment to Omaha students and its innovative and wise use of energy, Omaha Public Power District proudly awarded OPS the 2011 J.M. Harding Award of Excellence.

Named after OPPD’s first president, J.M. Harding, the award of excellence is presented annually to one of OPPD’s commercial or industrial customers on the basis of several energy-related factors, including energy consumption, efficiency and innovation. The award was presented during the board’s monthly meeting for June.

Omaha Public School District is a shining example of applying what is learned in the classroom to the “real” world. The largest school district in Nebraska, OPS serves more than 49,000 students and employs more than 4,100 teachers and 2,900 administrative and support staff in 86 schools.

In announcing the selection, OPPD President Gary Gates said that not only do OPS facilities create comfortable learning environments that stimulate students and staff, but district personnel take extra measures when it comes to the energy efficiency of OPS buildings. In fact, Omaha Public Schools’ Green Schools Initiative is designed to make OPS one of the most energy- and resource-efficient school districts in the country.

Gates said OPS has enjoyed a very positive partnership with OPPD over the years. Following are a few OPS achievements:

  • LEED certification. OPS achieved LEED silver certification for the Omaha North High Magnet addition, making it the first LEED-certified K-12 school building in Nebraska. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green-building certification system.
  • ENERGY STAR Partner. OPS was the first school district in Nebraska to become an ENERGY STAR partner.
  • ENERGY STAR awards. OPS has benchmarked each school using the Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program. The program has developed energy-performance rating systems for buildings. Schools with a rating of 75 or higher on a 100-point scale are eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR award. OPS had four schools that qualified and earned the award in 2009, five in 2010, and it appears that as many as 12 schools may be eligible for an ENERGY STAR award in 2011.
  • Green Schools Initiative. OPS is prepared to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and significantly lighten its impact on the environment with its Green Schools Initiative. The core committee is comprised of administrators, teachers, students, parents, custodians and community partners, such as OPPD, Metropolitan Utilities District and the Green Omaha Coalition.
  • Lighting. In the summer of 2010, OPS completed the first phase of a major lighting retrofit in 21 schools, replacing 50,000 lamps and 18,000 ballasts with more energy-efficient lighting. This summer, phase two involves 30 schools that will replace 70,000 lamps and 30,000 ballasts.
  • Geothermal heat pumps. 21 OPS schools have geothermal heat pumps systems, and two schools currently under construction – Gateway Elementary and the yet-named 132nd & State Street Middle School – will have them. These systems use the earth as a heat source in the winter and to help cool the buildings in the summer via a series of wells and pipes buried deep underground. These systems take advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems.
  • Windows. OPS uses low-E coating, insulated windows. In addition, the district has been putting some shades on windows on south-exposed rooms to reduce some sunlight and cut energy costs.

OPPD also announced the newest Harding scholarship award winners. Selected for 2011 were Sahr Siddiqi of Creighton University and Matthew Goecke of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Both students have volunteered for various area nonprofit organizations and have their sights set on careers in their fields of study.

Siddiqi, a marketing and economics major and Spanish minor, currently works as a marketing assistant at Khaleeq Law Firm, as a marketing intern at Thrasher Basement Systems, and as a student assistant at the Creighton University Student Employment Office. She is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi and Spanish. She is the daughter of Shahid and Ambreen Siddiqi of Omaha.

Goecke, a construction management major, is an Eagle Scout. He is an active member of the Student Consortium of Specialty Contractors, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Associated General Contractors.

Goecke, who attended Louisville High School, hopes to obtain a career that will be in the public works sector upon graduation next May He is the son of Stephen and Janet Goecke of Louisville.

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OPPD Acts to Ensure Flooding Concerns Addressed Quickly

June 16, 2011

With an eye on rising water levels on the Missouri River, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors took action today to enhance the District’s ability to protect its power generating plants and its transmission and distribution system.

The Board approved a measure to authorize management to initiate the procurement of material, equipment and services as needed to restore or prevent damage to existing equipment without the use of normal sealed bid procedures. The measure is intended to ensure the District can acquire whatever it needs as quickly as possible to protect existing equipment and personnel and to avoid possible delays in restoring power.

The high volume of water released from upstream dams already has caused some flooding in OPPD’s service area. Those water releases continue to pose a threat to the electric system and generation facilities along the river. To address the current and future flood threat, OPPD initiated business continuity operations in order that it could begin necessary steps to protect District assets and to maintain system reliability. The District anticipates that the efforts may require quickly obtaining materials, equipment and services. The proposal approved by the Board will allow management to bypass the normal bidding process and shorten the time frame it takes the District to negotiate contracts in order to respond to circumstances to protect, repair, replace and maintain the utility’s system.

In other action, the board also:

  • authorized management to commence eminent domain proceedings to acquire land for a new substation in Sarpy County and to acquire easements for construction and relocation of two transmission lines as part of the Southeast Sarpy County Growth and Reliability Project.
  • authorized management to award a contract for $1,653,982.34 to Irwin Industries Inc. of Long Beach, California, to install boiler tubing in one of the units at North Omaha Station.
  • approved the appointment of Sherrye L. Hutcherson as vice president.
  • approved a resolution honoring Adrian J. Minks upon her retirement as vice president. Ms. Minks was also presented OPPD’s President Award.
  • announced the Omaha Public Schools as the 2011 J.M. Harding Award winner for innovative use of energy and presented scholarships to students Matthew Goecke of UNO and Sahr Siddiqi of Creighton University.

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Wastewater Bypass Put in Place at Fort Calhoun Station

June 16, 2011

A partial bypass has been put in place to divert groundwater from leaking into a sanitary wastewater lift station from the Administration Building at Fort Calhoun Station.

The bypass equipment will pump excess groundwater away from the lift station, used to transport sewage. Wastewater Treatment Lagoons are not flooded and are operating properly. The excess wastewater is being pumped from the lift station into Missouri River flood waters

The area around the Administration Building has been posted, warning personnel to stay clear while the lift station is bypassed.

For health and safety reasons, all individuals are cautioned to avoid contact with any flood water.

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OPPD’s Christianson is 2011 Economic Development Professional of the Year

June 14, 2011

An organization dedicated to the prosperous growth of Nebraska’s business climate by promoting economic development in the state has named Roger A. Christianson as the 2011 Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA) Professional of the Year. Christianson is Economic Development Manager for the Omaha Public Power District.

Christianson was named winner by the NEDA in the service provider category of utilities, regional service providers or statewide service provider. Christianson has worked in the Economic Development department of OPPD since February, 1998.

“In today’s economy when the competition for new business is so great, we realize how important it is to have people like Roger who are able to go out and sell major companies on the advantages of locating a business or growing that business in Nebraska,” said Tim Burke, OPPD Vice President of Customer Service and Public Affairs.

“To the extent that we are able to attract new business, we are able to increase the number of jobs and job opportunities in our area; as a utility we are able to increase our customer base and improve our financial stability; but most importantly, we benefit overall from an improved quality of life by remaining a healthy, growing community.”

Christianson was presented the award during the NEDA’s spring conference held recently in Grand Island.

Christianson was presented the award during the NEDA’s spring conference held recently in Grand Island.

Note: Also attached to this news release are a photo of Mr. Christianson for your possible use and a news release issued by the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA) which contains more information on his selection plus additional comments from the organization.

Roger Christianson - jpg

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Joint Information Center Activated, News Release No. 3

June 7, 2011

At approximately 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, OPPD officials declared they had taken all appropriate measures to safely return to the previously Level One Alert classification at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station to a Notification of Unusual Event (NOUE), which is the lowest of four classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Earlier today, OPPD officials declared a Level Two Alert classification at the plant due to smoke in an electrical switchgear room in the plant. There was no indication of a fire and no releases of radioactivity occurred. After a thorough safety review, the plant was cleared to return its level one emergency that was declared Monday due to flood conditions.

The plant has been shut down since April 9 for a refueling and maintenance outage. It remains shut down due to flooding of the Missouri River. The flooding appears to not have been a contributor to the electrical issue.

The public and the media are invited to a debriefing press conference at 2:00 p.m., Energy Plaza Auditorium, 444 South 16th Street Mall, in downtown Omaha.

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Joint Information Center Activated, News Release No. 2

June 7, 2011

At approximately 9:40 a.m. on Tuesday, OPPD officials declared an Alert classification at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station located just southwest of Blair, Neb., between Highway 75 and the Missouri River, due to smoke in an electrical switchgear room in the plant. There is no indication of a fire.

Plant personnel indicated there was smoke, but no visual flame was found. OPPD Fort Calhoun Station personnel are following all appropriate procedures and the public is in no danger. Crews are monitoring the situation. The plant was shut down on April 9 for a refueling and maintenance outage. It remains shut down due to flooding of the Missouri River. The flooding appears to not have been a contributor to the electrical issue.

Under an Alert, OPPD mobilizes a small emergency response organization to monitor the event and prepare countermeasures as a precaution, in case the incident becomes more severe. However, in most cases when an Alert is declared, technicians will return the plant to a safe condition in a short time.

An Alert classification means events are in progress or have occurred that indicate a potential degradation in the level of safety of the plant. No releases of radioactivity have occurred.

Work is underway to get the plant back to a normal condition and should be completed later today which will enable OPPD to return the plant back to a Level One Notification of Unusual Event, which was declared due to current flooding conditions.

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Joint Information Center Activated, News Release No. 1

June 7, 2011

An Alert has been declared at Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station. An Alert is the second-lowest of four classifications established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for nuclear power plants.

Due to the declaration, the OPPD has activated the Joint Information Center in order to provide information to the media. The center is located on the atrium level of Energy Plaza, 444 South l6th Street Mall, in downtown Omaha. It will serve the news media as the only source for official, up-to-date, accurate information about the plant emergency and off-site implications, if any.

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OPPD Declares Notification of Unusual Event

June 6, 2011

As mentioned last week, the rising Missouri River waters have reached a level where OPPD is declaring a Notification of Unusual Event (NOUE) at its Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station. According to projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the river level at the plant site is expected to reach 1,004 feet above mean sea level later this week, and is expected to remain above that level for more than one month. OPPD notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and emergency management agencies in Nebraska and Iowa of the declaration.

A NOUE is the least-serious of four emergency classifications that are standard in the U.S. nuclear industry. Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station will not move out of this emergency classification until it is confident the water will remain below the 1,004-foot level.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission notes that a Notification of Unusual Event indicates events are in process or have occurred which indicate potential impacts to the plant. No release of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring has occurred or is expected.

Fort Calhoun was in safe shutdown mode since early April for refueling the plant, and remains in that condition. In addition to the existing flood-protection at the plant, OPPD employees and contractors have built earth berms and sandbagged around the switchyards and additional buildings on site. They also are filling water-filled berms around the plant and other major buildings on site, have staged additional diesel fuel inside the Protected Area and are building additional overhead power lines to provide another option for power for the plant’s administration building, Training Center and one of its warehouses.

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OPPD Invites Public Input on Power Plan

June 1, 2011

Customers have the opportunity to speak out on how the Omaha Public Power District should meet their future electricity needs. OPPD annually forecasts the demand for electricity fifteen years into the future and studies the best ways to meet the demand. Solutions could include a mix of added generating capacity, energy conservation and efficiency, power purchases and more. The result is OPPD’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP must ensure electricity remains affordable and reliable, taking environmental preservation into account.

From June 1 through July 15, 2011, OPPD is inviting customers to send in comments on this comprehensive planning for the future.

The IRP changes with conditions, but continues to call for additional renewable energy purchases to meet OPPD’s goal of generating 10 percent of the electricity it sells to its retail customers from renewable sources by 2020.

Customers can view OPPD’s 2010 IRP online at and use it as a guide for their comments.

OPPD must also take into consideration laws and regulations. Rules and regulations regarding electricity generation can be found on the Nebraska Power Review Board website at

From June 1 through July 15, 2011, interested customers can send comments via email or regular mail to OPPD. Email should go to Written comments should be sent to:

OPPD, IRP Input, 10E/EP1, 444 South 16th Street Mall, Omaha, NE, 68102.

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More Wind for OPPD Customers

May 19, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District moved past the halfway mark today toward its renewable energy goal. The OPPD Board of Directors at its monthly meeting authorized management to complete an agreement to purchase 45 megawatts of wind-generated electricity from a facility under consideration near Broken Bow, Nebraska. Midwest Wind Energy, LLC, is planning to build the farm by 2013. OPPD already has agreed to purchase 18 megawatts from another Broken Bow project, which is due to go online next year.

OPPD has a goal of generating 10 percent of the electricity it sells to its retail customers from renewable sources by 2020. This purchase will bring it to 57 percent of that goal. Currently, OPPD buys wind-generated electricity from wind farms in Richardson, Brown and Knox counties. It has contracts for additional renewable energy from a wind farm in Boone County and two experimental direct-drive wind turbines in Springview, Nebraska.

Under Nebraska law, wind farms are taxed locally at $3,518 per megawatt of capacity. OPPD ratepayers’ payments to the 45-megawatt project will allow the operator of the farm to make annual payments to Custer County coffers of tens of thousands of dollars. When the expansion project comes on line, the cost of the wind will show up on OPPD bills as part of the Fuel and Purchased Power line item. The cost of the wind will mean up to a 2 percent general increase in the cost of electricity in 2013, depending on the cost of transmission.

In other action, the board authorized management to negotiate and enter into a contract to rebuild a large autotransformer that failed in January.

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Brand New Course & Car Highlight Power Drive© Finale

May 4, 2011

Electric-powered cars are rolling off the assembly lines of major automakers now, with more planned in the coming year. So it is fitting that Nebraska’s electric vehicle competition also enters a new era this year. High school Power Drive© teams will converge on the brand new Werner Park in Papillion, Nebraska, for the Power Drive Championships on Saturday, May 7. Also at the park will be an all-electric Nissan Leaf passenger vehicle, so new it is not yet on sale in the Midwest.

Power Drive is a light-electric vehicle competition for high school students that is wrapping up its thirteenth year. During the course of the school year, students design and build a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle that they get to showcase during a series of rallies in the spring. They work in teams, under the direction of instructors who have been trained at Power Drive workshops. Instructors report the program boosts academics, school spirit and community interest and support. It encourages interest in energy- and automotive-related industries by bringing a practical focus to student’s math, science and/or vocational education.

This year, teams from 44 high schools in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota entered the program. Saturday’s action is open to the public at Werner Park, 12356 Ballpark Way, Papillion, Nebraska, home of the Omaha Storm Chasers minor league baseball team.

This year, students will have an opportunity to see the passenger-sized version of what they have worked on . . . the Nissan Leaf, thanks to the work of Woodhouse Nissan in Bellevue, Nebraska. Woodhouse Nissan trucked the all-electric vehicle to Nebraska from Texas, because the Leaf is not yet on sale in the Midwest. Leaf owners are among the few car owners in America not directly affected by the rising cost of gasoline, since they get their fuel from electric outlets, not gas pumps. Power Drive students have a head start on the concepts of the all-electric technology in use in the Leaf.

Check in and judging for the Power Drive Championships will start at 8 a.m. with braking and maneuverability competitions to follow. The one-hour endurance rallies are set to begin around 10:00 a.m. All of the events are free and open to the public.

Besides braking, endurance and maneuverability, students will be judged on their documentation of the project, and the vehicle’s design and construction. The overall winner will be the team (vehicle) that accumulates the most points from all categories.

Power Drive is currently co-sponsored by Omaha Public Power District and Nebraska Public Power District. Numerous civic, community organizations and businesses also support Power Drive throughout the school year.

More information about Power Drive is available by visiting the OPPD website at PowerDrive. More information on Werner Park is available at WernerPark.

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Watt Detector a Hit

May 4, 2011

Omaha area residents are checking out ways to save electricity and money by checking out Watt Detector kits at Omaha Public Library. In the program’s first two months, Watt Detector kits have been checked out 183 times. The kit contains a meter that measures how much electricity appliances use - such as computers, televisions and hair dryers -  even when you think they are turned off.

“It made sense for Omaha Public Library to partner with OPPD on this project,” Omaha Public Library Executive Director Gary Wasdin said. “The Library is a convenient place to borrow the Watt Detector and we hope families will save money with what they learn.”

The Omaha Public Power District supplied the kits as part of its program to educate customers on how to use energy more efficiently.

“We appreciate this partnership with the Omaha Public Library,” said OPPD President and CEO W. Gary Gates. “This kit is a great tool to help our customers understand where they use the most energy. Armed with that knowledge, they can then manage their energy usage better. And now that we’ve worked out the details of the program, we can make it available to other libraries in our service territory.”

Libraries interested in circulating Watt Detector kits should contact Garry Ruliffson at 402-636-3735 or

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OPPD Gives Groups Greenery Grants

April 29, 2011

Arbor Day will be greener in the future in a number of communities around Omaha Public Power District’s territory. OPPD observed Arbor Day by formally awarding sponsorships to 23 community groups and organizations spread from Johnson and Nemaha Counties in southeast Nebraska to Fort Calhoun north of Omaha. All had applied to OPPD’s Tree Promotion Program with the idea of beautifying their communities by planting trees and shrubs. The groups include schools, churches, youth organizations, and neighborhood associations.

The projects must promote energy efficiency and/or beautification, must be located on public property or that owned by a non-profit organization, and cannot exceed $2,500. The program allows for the planting of shrubs as well as trees. The District has operated the program for nearly twenty years to show how trees and power lines can co-exist.

OPPD’s Tree Promotion Program is one reason the National Arbor Day Foundation recognizes OPPD as a Tree Line USA utility. That program promotes efforts to combine reliable electric service with healthy trees in cities and villages.

Today’s Arbor Day ceremony was held at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha and included school children planting a tree on the grounds. The following received 2011 Tree Promotion Program grants:

American GI Forum – Omaha Chapter
Anderson Grove PTO – Papillion, NE
Bethlehem House – Omaha
Camp Fire USA, Midlands Council, Inc.
Douglas County Environmental Services
Fairacres Homeowners Association, Omaha
Fire Ridge HOA, Inc. – Elkhorn, NE
First Unitarian Church of Omaha
Fort Calhoun Community Schools
Fourth Grade Foresters USA
Lincoln, NE
GFWC/Papillion Junior Woman’s Club Papillion, NE
L.L. Coryell & Son Park Foundation
Johnson, NE
Midtown Neighborhood Alliance – Omaha
Notre Dame Living Center – Omaha
City of Omaha
Omaha Council of Garden Clubs
Omaha Downtown Improvement District
Rosehill Cemetery – Village of Douglas
Saddlebrook Elementary – Omaha
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas –
West Midwest Community
St. Luke United Methodist Church – Omaha
St. Roberts School/Church – Omaha
Wyman Heights Neighborhood Association – Omaha

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. ~Chinese Proverb

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OPPD Moves Closer to Changing Membership in SPP

April 14, 2011

The push for more renewable energy across the country means that new transmission lines are going to be needed in the future. However, who should pay for them and how much is fair? The issue continues to divide the Omaha Public Power District and the Southwest Power Pool. It has also led OPPD’s Board of Directors to take the next step toward possibly changing the utility’s membership in SPP.

SPP is a regional transmission organization with members in nine states. The organization oversees enforcement and development of reliability standards for the nation’s transmission system in that nine-state region.

Today at its board meeting the OPPD Board authorized management to implement a revised Open Access Transmission Tariff. Under requirements of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the revision would be necessary if the utility were to change its membership in SPP. The revised tariff would provide the terms, conditions and rates under which OPPD will provide transmission services for new transmission service requests and existing service agreements.

The vote is the latest action in the dispute which began when SPP announced proposed changes in the method of allocating costs to members for new transmission facilities. Last year OPPD sent a letter opposing the new method and notifying SPP of its intention to become a non-transmission owner if changes could not be worked out. The District maintained that the new allocation method would shift significant costs to the utility’s customer-owners over time with little or no benefit. In fact, Nebraska customer-owners would be paying to help wind farm operators in Kansas and Oklahoma ship their energy eastward.

The two sides have remained unsuccessful in negotiating a resolution. However, despite the board’s latest vote, no final decisions have been made on when or if the change in membership will occur. The two sides expect to continue negotiations.

In other action at its monthly meeting the board also reviewed and approved the District’s 2010 Health Plan Report. The District’s health plan is self-funded and state law requires that the board review it annually.

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Fort Calhoun Station Off Line for Maintenance and Refueling Outage

April 11, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District’s nuclear power plant, Fort Calhoun Station, was taken off line this past weekend, April 9, 2011, for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage. A nuclear plant such as Fort Calhoun shuts down approximately every 18 months to refuel.

During the outage, about one third of the fuel assemblies in the reactor core will be replaced with new fuel, which will remain in the reactor for approximately four and a half years.

Plant personnel and numerous other OPPD employees will perform hundreds of activities with supplemental workers from outside companies assisting. In all, an estimated 1,100 workers will take part in more than 13,000 activities and tasks during the outage.

Besides refueling the plant, workers will conduct numerous tests and perform preventive maintenance on plant equipment and instrumentation to ensure the plant continues to perform safely at peak efficiency. Major maintenance projects include replacing a reactor coolant pump motor, upgrading the station’s turbine control system, replacing electronics in one of the station’s diesel generators and maintenance on more than 600 valves throughout the station.

When operating, Fort Calhoun Station generates approximately 500 million watts of emission-free power.

The Omaha Public Power District serves more than 340,000 retail customers, the most of any utility in Nebraska.

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OPPD Annual Report Highlights Employee Creativity

April 7, 2011

The 2010 OPPD Annual Report highlights the employee creativity that has helped keep OPPD rates well below the national average as it recaps the past year.

The report shows that OPPD residential customers paid an average of 9.22 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2010, compared to 11.63 cents per kWh for the national average, according to the Energy Information Administration.* OPPD retail customers paid an average 7.26 cents per kWh in 2010, compared to 9.91 cents per kWh for the national average.* Those are discounts of more than 20 percent from the national average.

OPPD achieved this and other accomplishments last year, in part thanks to the creativity and innovation of employees, who faced budget and hiring freezes, among other challenges. One example is the formation of the OPPD Society of Engineers, a network that fosters collaboration to share successes, explore new ideas and challenge old ones. Available at, the report is aptly titled Creative Juice.

“Many of our employees were attracted to their profession because they have an innate curiosity of how things work or how things are put together. That inquisitive spirit served OPPD well last year,” said OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates and Chairman of the Board John Green in their report message.

A detailed Financial Report shows solid financial results for 2010. Among the highlights are total operating revenues of $986 million and total operating expenses of $827 million.

At, find the document under the Investors & Finance tab. Or, click the link: Financial Information.

*EIA stats for national average are preliminary year-to-date November 2010.

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Education Workshops Center on Energy Efficiency

April 3, 2011

If you are looking for some practical solutions to increase energy efficiency in your home or wondering how proper landscaping can save you money and energy, then the answers are close at hand. The Omaha Public Power District, in conjunction with the Neighborhood Center, is offering four energy-efficiency workshops to the public from May through October. Admission to the workshops is free.

The first workshop will be held on May 9 at the OPPD arboretum, 108th and Blondo Street, from 5:30 p.m. to 7. The workshop will teach the importance of landscape plantings in providing energy conservation and observe landscape and specimen plantings of trees and shrubs, especially near power lines or near electrical equipment.

The second workshop will be held on June 13. The session will provide members of the public with a variety of no cost to low cost energy efficiency saving opportunities within their homes. The workshop will include visual displays as well as offer simple solutions to the most common energy consuming aspects of the home. The second workshop will take place at the Neighborhood Center located at 115 South 49th Avenue in Omaha. It will also run from 5:30 p.m. until 7. Both free workshops also include dinner.

Two other workshops will take place later in the year, both at the Neighborhood Center at 115 South 49th Avenue.

One workshop in September will explore why your home needs an energy audit. In October, the final workshop will allow members of the public to attend a session called “Ask the Expert Energy Rater Panel.” The panel of experts will answer your questions about energy conservation. Each rater will also give away one free energy audit to the workshop attendees.

To register to attend the upcoming workshops, those interested should contact Liz Moldenhauer at 402-561-7583 or, or Ron Abdouch at 402-561-7582 or You can also learn more by visiting

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OPPD In-Lieu-of Tax Payments Approach $27 Million

April 1, 2011

Tough economic times over the last year have caused many local governments to struggle to meet their budget needs. The Omaha Public Power District is doing its part to help by contributing significantly to the treasuries of the communities it serves. Today, OPPD made its 2010 in-lieu-of-tax payments which totaled almost $27 million. The payments to the eleven counties in the utility’s service territory represent a new record surpassing last year’s amount of almost $24 million.

The in-lieu-of-tax payments are based on OPPD’s gross revenues from retail sales of electricity within incorporated cities and villages during the previous year. The payments take the place of property taxes as well as some other taxes. In addition to the in-lieu-of-tax payments, the District pays general sales taxes, gasoline taxes, wheel taxes, motor vehicle license fees and permit fees like any other business.

The in-lieu-of-tax payments will be distributed by the county treasurers to school districts, cities and other entities.

“As we all know, the nation continues to face a very challenging economy and that has meant OPPD has had to take extra measures to maintain our operations while successfully keeping rates low and affordable,” said OPPD Board Chairman John K. Green.

“While we continue to work to strengthen our business, the increase in this year’s payments reflects the revenues that the District was able to generate. It will greatly benefit local communities as the monies contributed to the various local treasuries will help them remain economically healthy and fund needed services,” Chairman Green said.

The eleven counties that received payments today and the amounts received are as follows:

  • Douglas.............................................. $21,927,362.52
  • Sarpy.................................................... $3,640,068.07
  • Washington............................................. $ 564,351.73
  • Saunders................................................. $ 250,229.72
  • Cass......................................................... $223,611.41
  • Dodge...................................................... $115,782.19
  • Nemaha.................................................... .$35,411.60
  • Johnson.......................................................$13,552.77
  • Richardson............................................... ..$13,091.77
  • Otoe.............................................................$5,031.83
  • Colfax........................................................ ..$4,299.86
  • Total.................................................   $26,792,793.47

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Statement from OPPD

March 31, 2011

This morning, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission testified before a congressional committee. He mentioned that the NRC was conducting a more intensive review of three nuclear plants as part of its "very conservative" safety review system. One of those plants is Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.

According to OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates, the top priority at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station is the safe operation of the plant. “When the NRC identified a concern about our sandbagging procedures, we took action immediately,” Gary said. “We updated our flood protection strategy and have tested and re-tested our new strategy to ensure it’s engineered to protect the plant in the unlikely event of a catastrophic flood. The issue is operationally resolved and at no time was there a threat to public safety or was public health at risk. We are confident once the inspection is completed, this will no longer be an issue.”

Here are the details:

In October 2010, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled Fort Calhoun operated safely but issued a “yellow finding” because it questioned the station’s flood protection procedures during a worst-case scenario involving the Missouri River. This automatically triggered the more intensive review. This followed an inspection in July 2009. The NRC felt that OPPD’s procedures for sandbagging around the plant were not adequate.

OPPD has since updated its flood protection strategy. It has fully documented the procedures and has installed and tested emergency flood panels that enhance the plant’s protection in the event of a catastrophic flood.

We have been discussing this with the NRC and believe we are now in compliance with the NRC’s rules and regulations, subject to the NRC’s inspection to verify compliance. OPPD feels it is ready for that inspection and will be notifying the NRC of that soon.

The yellow finding placed Fort Calhoun Station in what the NRC calls a “degraded cornerstone” situation, meaning it is subject to more intensive inspections until this issue is verified closed by the NRC. This is a routine part of the process. The two other plants mentioned by the NRC chairman are in the same regulatory condition.

The NRC chairman also said the reviews were not unusual and were part of yearly evaluations. The NRC has also stressed that all of the nation’s plants including Fort Calhoun are meeting the regulator’s safety requirements and continue to operate safely.

As the NRC chairman noted, the agency has a “very conservative system” and likes to identify problems early to ensure they can get addressed early.” OPPD is confident the problem has been addressed.

Once again, safety is the number one priority at Fort Calhoun and, at no time, was the public’s safety or health at risk.

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Calling All Refrigerator Artists

March 30, 2011

That's right! Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) is looking for five artists interested in using an old refrigerator as their canvas (or sculpture).

The objective is to increase awareness of energy efficiency and recycling and to help promote OPPD's refrigerator recycling program. As part of the program, OPPD will haul away old, inefficient refrigerators for free and pay the customer $35. Last year, OPPD customers recycled 2,079 refrigerators. Specifics of the program can be found at

OPPD is seeking submission of five proposals for green-themed temporary art installations using refrigerators as the basis for their artwork. The artwork will be displayed at various locations throughout OPPD’s service territory.

For the art project, artists submitting proposals must be aware that art should be finished and ready for installation by June 24, 2011. To obtain a copy of the request for proposal or for more information, artists should contact Elliott Spilker at

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OPPD Streamlines Energy-Efficiency Steps

March 17, 2011

In a move designed to respond to the increasing desire of Nebraska public agencies to more efficiently use energy, the Board of Directors of the Omaha Public Power District today streamlined its procedures to assist them. The Board gave management the authority to engage in interlocal agreements with other public agencies, including universities.

Interlocal agreements allow two or more agencies to cooperate on projects and initiatives that are in the best interest of both parties. Examples of these initiatives include: energy services for conservation, electric technologies and other services that OPPD has the ability to provide.

The move will make OPPD more capable of swiftly responding to agencies which are looking for ways to operate more efficiently. In the past, the Board has approved each agreement. Today’s move will allow management to conclude those agreements and report back to the Board.

In other action at its monthly meeting, the Board:

  • authorized management to award a contract to Hyundai Heavy Industries of Gardena, California, for $890,871, to buy a high-voltage power transformer and spare bushings.
  • delayed the elimination of Rate Schedule No. 117 Trailer Court Rate by two months to allow for continued discussions between management and trailer court owners.
  • approved compensation adjustments for a corporate officer.

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OPPD Tree Efforts Earns National Honors

March 10, 2011

For the eleventh consecutive year, the Omaha Public Power District has been named a Tree Line USA Utility Provider by the Arbor Day Foundation. The Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters recognizes public and private utility providers that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance America’s trees and urban forests. The goal of the Tree Line USA program is to promote safe, reliable electric service and abundant, healthy trees throughout a utility company’s service area.

In announcing OPPD’s selection, the Arbor Day Foundation said the District met five basic requirements for a Tree Line USA utility. The requirements are that the utility follows industry standards for quality tree care; provides annual worker training in best tree-care practices; participates in and sponsors a tree-planting and public education program; has a tree-based energy conservation program; and participates in an Arbor Day celebration.

“We are very pleased to be named as a Tree Line USA Utility for another year,” said John Buckley, supervisor of Transmission and Distribution Maintenance Management for OPPD.”It reflects this utility’s commitment to being a good steward of our environment. We believe in the importance of quality tree care while meeting our service objectives as well as the proper selection, placement and maintenance of trees, especially around overhead power lines.”

“Trees are an important part of urban landscapes all across the United States from an environmental and economic standpoint,” added John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Trees not only help clean the air and water sources, the shade they provide helps reduce peak energy usage and conserve energy. Utility providers like the Omaha Public Power District are setting a good example about the importance of recognizing a valuable community resource like trees.”

More information about OPPD’s tree programs including applications for the 2011 Tree Grant program can be found under the Aim Green section on the district’s website at Information about the Arbor Day Foundation and the Tree Line USA program can be found at

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OPPD Reintroduces Refrigerator/Freezer Recycling Program

February 28, 2011

Thousands of old and inefficient refrigerators will be hitting the recycling bin soon as the Omaha Public Power District brings back a popular program. OPPD’s refrigerator/freezer recycling program in 2010 took nearly 2,100 inefficient units off the grid when it ran last fall. As part of the program, OPPD arranges for the pick-up of older, energy-wasting refrigerators or freezers and pays participating customers $35 as an incentive.

Older refrigerators can consume up to four times more energy than newer units. Operating in unconditioned spaces like a garage makes them work even harder, especially in the hot days of summer.

The program went over so well, it ran out of money with 177 units on the waiting list.

“We were excited by the success of the first program,” said OPPD Vice President of Employee & Customer Relations Tim Burke. “By removing these refrigerators and freezers from the grid, we will help delay the need to build more generating units, which can be very expensive.”

OPPD contracts with JACO Environmental to remove the appliances from participating customers’ homes and then dismantle and recycle them. JACO’s process recycles 95 percent of the material in the appliances. Even the foam insulation, which cannot be recycled, is safely incinerated through a method that generates electricity for the grid.

Some of the materials inside refrigerators and freezers pose an environmental threat if discarded in landfills.

The program covers the removal of up to two units per household. Appliances to be recycled must be in working order, with an inside measurement of between 10 and 32 cubic feet. The program will run through October, 2011 if funds permit.

OPPD customers can take advantage of the program by calling 866-444-9160 or visiting to schedule a pick-up.

OPPD is one of the largest customer-owned electric utilities in the United States, serving more than 340,000 customers in 13 counties in eastern Nebraska.

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OPPD Prepares Tariffs To Save Money

February 17, 2011

Sometimes it’s the little things that save money. The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors took action today on something that might seem minor, but could result in substantial savings for its customer-owners. The Board authorized management to prepare OPPD’s Open Access Transmission Tariff. The tariff is what OPPD will charge other utilities to use its transmission lines to move power along the grid.

OPPD currently relies on the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to handle those transactions. However, soon after OPPD joined SPP in April 2009, SPP changed how it would charge transmission owners for future transmission line construction projects, some of which would benefit other regions and not OPPD customer-owners.

As a result, OPPD has announced its intention to change its SPP membership status, effective this April. After the change takes effect, OPPD will need to have its own tariffs. The transition from SPP to OPPD’s tariffs will take several months.

In other action at its monthly meeting, the Board:

  • authorized management to negotiate and award a contract to General Electric Bently Nevada of Reno, Nevada, for turbine supervisory instrumentation system hardware and software at Fort Calhoun Station.
  • approved the 2011 board standing committee assignments.
  • approved compensation adjustments for two corporate officers.

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OPPD to Offer Grants for Cutting Energy Use

February 15, 2011

Maybe you recently bought a new home. Maybe you have a limited income or are among those struggling financially. Maybe you are a senior citizen. Those are among the groups a new educational effort from the Omaha Public Power District is targeting in its service territory. Called the “OPPD Get a Head Start on Energy Education” program, the effort aims to help households discover low-cost ways to reduce, stabilize or improve energy use in their homes and to better manage, as well as plan for, energy-related expenses.

For the next month, OPPD will be accepting grant applications from nonprofit groups, community-based organizations, and governmental and educational entities that work with families and individuals. Organizations include neighborhood associations, libraries, senior centers, housing agencies and others who sponsor adult-based education programs.

Get a Head Start on Energy was initially developed in 2008 by the Nebraska Energy Assistance Network (NEAN), a statewide coalition of utilities, human service and governmental agencies, community leaders and others, and piloted with the Nebraska Head Start Association in 2009. Since then the program has spread throughout the state and nationally. OPPD is a founding partner of NEAN.

The program provides agencies with the tools to educate households on using energy wisely. This includes educational CDs and DVDs for hands-on instruction on energy efficiency plus up to 30 energy kits per organization. Kits contain such things as weather stripping, electrical outlet insulators and compact fluorescent lamps.

OPPD is accepting grant applications between February 15 and March 15. Those selected will be notified by Friday, April 1, 2011. Applications and more information on the program are available on the district’s website at Those with questions may also contact Judi Martin at 402-636-3654 or

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New Nebraska Wind Farm To Be Dedicated

February 14, 2011

It started with the idea that it should be possible to locate an area in southeast Nebraska where a cost-effective utility-scale wind farm could be built. That possibility has moved beyond being just an idea and is now a reality. On February 17, a number of state and local government officials, including Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy, various utility representatives and others will gather in Richardson County, Nebraska, to dedicate the new Flat Water Wind Farm.

Developers constructed the facility to provide renewable generation to the Omaha Public Power District, based in Omaha, Nebraska. OPPD signed a power purchase agreement with Flat Water Wind Farm LLC to buy the total output of the wind farm of 60 megawatts (MW) for 20 years. The agreement is part of the utility’s effort to increase its portfolio of renewable generation. The utility has committed to 10 percent of its power production coming from renewable sources by 2020.

“We’re proud to officially dedicate the first wind farm in our service territory,” said OPPD President Gary Gates. “It serves as a significant step in reaching our self-imposed goal of generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable resources. Besides wind, we have also been generating with other renewables, such as solar and landfill gas.”

Mr. Gates added, “We have always believed that generating electricity with a diverse and environmentally friendly fuel mix is the best way to provide low cost reliable power to our customers. We remain committed to that approach and will always strive to do what’s in the best interest of our customers.”

Since 2009, OPPD has been buying 35 MW of wind energy from two other Nebraska wind farms, operating a .67 MW wind turbine in Valley, Nebraska, and has agreed to purchase 118.5 additional MW of wind energy by 2012.

Located in an area south of Humboldt, Nebraska, the wind farm features 40 GE 1.5 megawatt wind turbines that start producing at wind speeds of about 8 miles per hour and reach full output at 26 miles per hour. The turbines will cut out at sustained wind speeds above 45 miles per hour to protect the equipment from damage.

The owner of the wind farm is Gestamp Wind North America which is based in Houston, Texas. Meanwhile, EnXco recently signed a 10-year operations and management agreement with Flat Water Wind Farm and will be the facility’s onsite operator.

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OPPD Names John Herman as Division Manager

January 25, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has announced the appointment of John B. Herman as Division Manager of Nuclear Engineering, effective January 30. In his new position, Mr. Herman will assume overall responsibility for four departments: System Engineering, Design Engineering, Engineering Programs and Reactor Performance Analysis.

Mr. Herman began his career with OPPD in 1988 after more than 10 years of experience as an engineering consultant with Advanced Technologies Engineering Services, Inc. and as a nuclear operator in the U.S. Navy. He began his career at OPPD as Supervisor of Operations Training where he was responsible for the licensing of nuclear plant operators at Fort Calhoun Station. He has held many additional leadership positions at OPPD including: Supervisor of Nuclear Licensing, Manager of Outage Management, Manager of Planning & Scheduling, Manager of Nuclear Licensing, Manager of Engineering Programs and Manager of Design Engineering.

Mr. Herman holds bachelor degrees from the University of the State of New York and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Creighton University. He is a registered professional mechanical engineer in the state Nebraska and a certified project management professional. He and his wife, Colleen, have three children.

John Herman
John Herman

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OPPD Prepares for Electric Vehicles

January 19, 2011

      Electric Vehicles (EVs) are now rolling off assembly lines and are expected to hit the Omaha market later this year. With some of its customers planning to get their transportation fuel from the power grid instead of a gas pump, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) has undertaken studies as to how this might affect its operations.

      One of its first discoveries was that customers have a lot of questions about the new technology. To help keep its customers updated with the most current EV information, OPPD will launch a new website,, and be on hand at the 2011 Midlands International Auto Show, January 20-23, at the Qwest Center Omaha.

      Two major auto companies have brought electric vehicles into the mainstream recently by launching the all-electric Nissan Leaf and General Motors’ plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt. The Volt was recently awarded 2011 North American Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show. Due to the heightened interest, this year’s Midlands International Auto Show will highlight EVs. OPPD knew the simplest solution to providing energy answers to customers’ questions about the cars was to be at the show.

      “As a trusted partner for residents and cities in our service territory, we are committed to being the ‘go-to’ resource in our region for customers getting plug-in ready,” said Cynthia Buettner, Division Manager of Customer Service Operations and Communications Chair for OPPD’s EV Readiness Project.

      OPPD customers interested in purchasing an EV have many questions and pros and cons to consider. They can research types of EVs, learn about charging options and environmental benefits, complete an EV readiness checklist and find the latest incentives, news and resources on

      “The site will be continually updated with the latest, most relevant information related to EV advancements, so that EV purchasers can find everything they need in one place,” said Buettner.

      Visitors will also find the following information sheets on both and in OPPD’s booth – booth 49 -- at the Midlands International Auto Show:

  • What You Need to Know Before You Buy an Electric Vehicle
  • The Difference Between Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Battery Electric Vehicles
  • Three Important Steps to Making Your Home Ready for an Electric Vehicle
  • How OPPD is Preparing for Electric Vehicles
  • Electric Vehicle Readiness Checklist

      The Midlands International Auto Show runs from 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on January 20, 10 a.m. –9 p.m. on January 21 and 22, and 10 a.m. –6 p.m. on January 23 at the Qwest Center Omaha. For more information visit OmahaAutoShow.

For more information about EVs in the OPPD service area, visit, call 1-855-OPPD4EV (1-855-677-3438) or send an email to OPPD4EV

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OPPD Names James Foley as Division Manager

January 19, 2011

The Omaha Public Power District has announced the appointment of James J. Foley as Division Manager of System Planning & Cost Management, effective January 23. In his new position, Mr. Foley will assume overall responsibility for four departments: Asset Management & Maintenance, Communications, Energy Management System Operations, and T&D Planning.

Mr. Foley began his career at OPPD as a summer intern at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station and was later hired full time as a test engineer at the plant in 1982. He has held many leadership positions at OPPD, including supervisor of Electrical Maintenance and Instrumentation & Control, supervisor of Instrumentation & Control, system engineer, lead asset management engineer and principal substation engineer.

Most recently, Mr. Foley has been serving as the interim manager of the Substation & System Protection Department.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and has completed advanced studies in computer science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is a registered professional engineer in Nebraska. He and his wife, Chris, have three children.

Jim Foley

James J. Foley

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OPPD Acts to Minimize Impact of the Unexpected

January 13, 2011

Major storms can cause extensive damage to a power grid. Unplanned outages at a generating plant can cause a need for expensive replacement power. The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors took action at its monthly meeting to reduce the chance of such events causing a need to raise rates as it added $4.2 million to the District’s Rate Stabilization Reserve. The reserve was first established in 2000 to accumulate earnings that could be used to help maintain stable rates in the future. The funds being transferred into the reserve this year come from OPPD’s 2010 earnings.

In other action, the board also approved an adjustment in some rates for commercial customers. The Supplemental Distribution Capacity rate is for those commercial customers requesting and receiving increased service reliability beyond that normally provided by the District. Customers are currently receiving the service for less than it costs the District to provide. The adjustment will allow the District to recover the extra expense of providing the enhanced level of service.

There will also be adjustments for miscellaneous service charges.

At its monthly meeting, the board also:

  • approved compensation adjustments for Vice President Adrian J. Minks and Vice President Mohamad I. Doghman.
  • approved revisions to the Board’s Standing Committee Charters.
  • elected Board Officers for 2011.
  • honored board member Geoff Hall for his 14 years of service on the OPPD Board of Directors. Mr. Hall will be leaving the board to accept an appointment as a district court judge

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