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News Releases : OPPD laying the groundwork for a bright energy future

As the utility industry evolves, Omaha Public Power District continues to lead the way the future is powered. At their monthly board meeting today, the OPPD Board of Directors received a strategic planning update from President & CEO Timothy J. Burke.

Burke outlined five new strategic initiatives that are the building blocks for the district’s 10-year strategic plan based on OPPD’s guiding principles. These strategic initiatives will create the road map for what the utility should be in the future while maintaining a strong focus on OPPD’s mission of providing affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services.

“Customers expect the lights to come on when they flip the switch,” Burke said. “OPPD is committed to keeping the power flowing reliably and affordably, while being good stewards to our environment. We must do all of this, while staying at the forefront of this rapidly changing industry.”

Initiatives will include a long-term study to address the long-term balance of load generation, along with decarbonization options for the district’s generation mix. Vice President Mary Fisher spoke to the topic, noting that the energy generation landscape is changing rapidly. Fisher said the drivers are primarily improving renewable technology, and environmental considerations around carbon emissions and climate change, “something our customers clearly care about.”

The district has made significant investments in renewable energy over the past decade, Fisher said. In 2009, approximately 10% of the retail sales in OPPD’s energy portfolio came from renewable sources. By the end of this year, when Sholes wind energy facility is fully online, the utility expects to reach nearly 40%. In addition, the district is working toward a strategic directive of 50% of its retail sales coming from renewable energy.

Fisher noted that Units 4 and 5 at OPPD’s North Omaha Station will switch from coal to natural gas in 2023, as planned. The older units – 1, 2, and 3 – were retired from coal in March 2016.

“We will study different pathways to establish the next steps for our generation fleet, while balancing reliability, resiliency and affordability, with our environmental goals” Fisher said.

In the coming months, OPPD will share more information about this and other initiatives, including how we engage with our customers, evaluation and modernization of our electric system, technology solutions, and transforming the workplace.

Throughout these discussions, Burke said, OPPD will remain guided by 15 strategic directives, provided by its Board of Directors.

Strategic Directive (SD) monitoring reports

The board accepted the monitoring report for SD-2: Rates at today’s meeting. Vice President & Chief Financial Officer Javier Fernandez presented this report to the board during their committee meetings Tuesday.

OPPD is in its third year of a 5-year rate freeze and remains committed to no general rate increases through 2021.

OPPD is also working toward rates that are 20% below the average for the West North Central Region, an area which encompasses North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. In implementing this rate target, OPPD must also adhere to the following principles: maintain fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory rates, equitably assign costs across and within all customer classes, monitor affordability indicators, pursue rate process and structure changes to reflect the cost of energy when it is used, offer flexibility and options, and be simple and easy to understand.

As of the latest figures available for 2017, the district is 8.6% below the West North Central Region average. Fernandez noted that OPPD is making progress.

Fernandez said the average monthly residential bill for OPPD customers is $103.82, which is 3.7% below the regional average. Based on Nebraska median income, according to U.S. Census data, the average bill represents 1.9% of income.

The board’s acceptance of the SD-2: Rates monitoring report means the board finds OPPD to be sufficiently in compliance with the directive.

Today, directors also accepted the monitoring report for SD-15: Enterprise Risk Management.

Other action

In other actions, directors:

  • Approved the April 2019 Comprehensive Financial and Operating Report, May 2019 meeting minutes and the June 20, 2019 agenda.
  • Authorized OPPD to increase the amount of outstanding commercial notes, in order to refund existing fixed rate debt and take advantage of low variable short-term interest rates.
  • Approved compensation adjustments for Juli A. Comstock, vice president-Customer Service, and Lisa A. Olson, vice president-Public Affairs. Comstock’s salary will increase by 4%, bringing it to $323,258. Olson’s salary will increase by 3%, bringing it to $344,240.
  • Received the president’s monthly utility report. You can view this report after it is posted by visiting com/boardmeeting.

Next meetings

The public portion of next month’s committee meetings will be held starting at 10 a.m., July 9 at Energy Plaza, 444 S. 16th St., Omaha.

If a closed session is needed to discuss sensitive information such as legal or personnel matters in private, committee meetings generally will begin at 8:30 a.m., with a vote to go into closed session immediately. The public portion of the meeting will continue after closed-session is completed, at approximately 10 a.m. There may be months where this process is changed, but any such change will be addressed in the official public notice for the meeting.

The monthly board meeting will be Thursday, July 11, at 4 p.m., also at Energy Plaza.

Both of these meetings are livestreamed at oppd.com as part of the district’s commitment to transparency, while making public meetings accessible and convenient for our customer-owners.