Omaha Public Power District remains committed to competitive rates, and that’s reflected in the utility’s preliminary Corporate Operating Plan (COP) for 2021. For the fifth straight year, customers will see no rate increase. The COP was presented to the OPPD Board of Directors at this week’s committee meetings, ahead of their monthly meeting today.
The proposed $1.4 billion budget demonstrates OPPD’s commitment to its mission of providing affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy services. And it takes account OPPD’s five strategic initiatives: Pathways to Decarbonization, Customer Engagement, Electric system Evaluation & Modernization, and Workplace Transformation.
The preliminary COP also includes the financial resources required in 2021 to further the expansion of the electric system for Power with Purpose, OPPD’s utility-scale solar project. Most of that funding would go toward the construction of modernized natural gas plants that will serve as backup to the solar. These facilities will operate 5% to 15% of the time, as needed per market conditions.
“Adding this generation will help OPPD meet the growing energy needs of our service territory,” said Vice President of Financial Services & Chief Financial Officer Javier Fernandez. “It is also an important part of OPPD’s larger effort to be a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050.”
The budget also accounts for three planned outages of baseload generation units in 2021, including Nebraska City Station Units 1 & 2 and North Omaha Station Unit 5. These scheduled outages are to complete maintenance work in order to keep generating reliable power for our customers. In addition, OPPD is planning a number of circuit and substation upgrades, as well as underground cable replacements. And it allows for continued proactive trimming of trees near power lines to help prevent service disruptions. OPPD plans to trim along 1,000 miles of line in the coming year.
“I am really proud of OPPD’s dedication to reliability and resiliency of the electric system and to ensure power is there for our customers when they need it,” said Fernandez.
OPPD invites the public to view the preliminary COP at OPPDCommunityConnect. There, customers will also find a link to an online comment form to share their thoughts with senior management and the board. Directors will vote on a finalized COP at their December board meeting.
Power with Purpose update
The board also received an update on Power with Purpose (PwP) this week. The project team continues to evaluate proposals to build 400 to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar. They have narrowed in on seven projects in or near OPPD’s service territory. The team is currently completing technical, commercial, and contract analysis. And they’re providing solar technology outreach and education to leaders of Washington, Cass, Burt, Saunders, and Nemaha Counties, among others.
Additionally, plans for natural gas backup generation to the solar continue to move forward. The Nebraska Power Review Board gave unanimous approval for the projects during a hearing that took place Oct. 19. OPPD will build generating facilities at 120th & Military Rd. in Omaha and 168th & Fairview Rd. in Papillion. Detailed site technical assessments continue for both locations. Sourcing for the major gas generation equipment, both combustion turbines and reciprocating internal combustion engines, is also in progress.
OPPD is engaging with directly impacted landowners and community leaders. And the PwP team is continuing stakeholder outreach efforts, which have included online meetings, direct mailers, walking tours and more. OPPD will continue to reach out to its customers throughout the PwP project, including communication through OPPDCommunityConnect.com, OPPDtheWire.com, the Outlets newsletter bill insert, social media channels, and community meetings.
Economic development news
In his monthly report to the board today, President Timothy J. Burke talked about OPPD’s role in Dollar General’s announcement that they’re building a distribution center in Blair. It’s an $85 million investment in the area and will create more than 400 jobs.
OPPD’s economic development team has been working with the company on the project since 2017. Access to affordable, reliable energy resources played a role in their decision to build the 800,000-square-foot facility in Washington County. Construction will begin this month.
OPPD worked closely with Gateway Development Corporation, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Greater Omaha Chamber, and the City of Blair to bring Dollar General to the area.
“This is a great example of collaboration with our city, state, and economic development partners to attract one of the largest distribution centers to Nebraska,” Burke said.
You can view the full president’s report by visiting OPPD.com/BoardMeeting.
In other action, directors:
- Approved the September 2020 Comprehensive Financial and Operating Report, October 2020 meeting minutes and the November 13, 2020 agenda.
- Approved the appointment of Scott Focht as vice president of Corporate Strategy and Governance, effective Dec. 1. Focht currently serves as senior director of Corporate Strategy & Governance for OPPD.
- Awarded a labor contract to TEi Construction Services in the amount of $1,957,998 to provide labor for the replacement of tubes for the Nebraska City Station Unit 1 main condenser.
- Approved OPPD’s request to negotiate and enter into a contract with Pratt & Whitney Power Systems for repair of the Sarpy County Station Unit 4B engine.
- Approved the Strategic Directive 11: Economic Development monitoring report. Acceptance means the board finds the utility to be fully in compliance with the directive.
Next month’s public board committee meetings will be virtual, starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8. Visit OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda to attend, starting at 9:45 a.m.
The date and time for the next monthly board meetings are still being determined. Please visit OPPD.com/BoardAgenda the first week of December for an up to date schedule. Advance notice will also be provided to members of the news media.