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News Releases : OPPD recommends delaying transition of North Omaha Station

OPPD is proud to power our rapidly growing communities throughout our 13-county service territory. To ensure our customers continue to have reliable, resilient power, OPPD made a recommendation at Tuesday’s Board of Directors all-committees meeting to delay the retirement of North Omaha Station (NOS) units 1-3 and fuel conversion of units 4 and 5 from low-sulfur coal to natural gas.

The delay is only until the utility’s new natural gas generation balancing stations are fully approved for grid interconnection service in accordance with federal law issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and administered by the Southwest Power Pool.

Previously, OPPD's Board of Directors approved these changes at NOS to occur by the end of 2023, when the new natural gas generation balancing stations – Standing Bear Lake (SBLS) and Turtle Creek (TCS) were planned to come online. However, due to unforeseen delays with grid interconnection regulatory approvals for those projects, part of our Power with Purpose (PwP) initiative, OPPD is recommending maintaining current generating operations at NOS until the new natural gas balancing stations are fully available, which is estimated by 2026.

PwP will bring additional generation totaling approximately 1,200 megawatts (MW) of natural gas and solar capability online. The diverse generation will help us power our communities into the future – prioritizing reliability and resiliency, while also continuing OPPD’s commitment to environmental stewardship. 

The construction of SBLS and TCS is critical to ensuring continued system reliability and resiliency. Once these stations are online, OPPD will look to retire North Omaha Station units 1-3 and refuel units 4-5 from low-sulfur coal to natural gas. In 2016, OPPD retired North Omaha units 1-3 from coal operations. Today, these units are available to run on natural gas, serving as peaking units during times of high demand for electricity.

SBLS and TCS are under construction now. However, in accordance with federal requirements, our regional grid authority, the Southwest Power Pool, must conduct a grid interconnection study before they can be connected to the grid. And with a large number of new generation projects requesting to come online in our region and every other region in the country, there is a major study backlog. In addition, the two new natural gas generation projects have experienced some siting and grading delays, as well as supply chain issues. The new solar generation projects have also experienced challenges with siting of projects and supply chain challenges, including impacts from the federal focus on solar panel imports.

“This is one of those moments where we need to slow down our present path to achieve our future goals,” said President and CEO Javier Fernandez. “The extension of North Omaha Station’s current mission supports our commitment to reliability and resiliency, something we know our customers and communities are especially mindful of following the 2021 polar vortex event.”

OPPD’s leadership team continues to work diligently on finding solutions to the challenges facing not only our utility, but utilities across the region. Current delays will not impact OPPD’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon by 2050.

For a more in-depth look at this recommendation and the reasons behind it, visit OPPD.com/PwPreliabilityupdate. The board of directors will vote on today’s recommendation during their next meeting, Aug. 18.

Vice president search

In April, the board approved the creation of a new Environmental & Sustainability Business Unit. These functions are currently part of the Public Affairs Business Unit. Over the past couple of months, OPPD’s executive leaders have been working on a process for implementing the new business unit. This week, the utility posted the position of vice president of Sustainability and will be working to identify the best candidate to lead this area of the organization. The board must approve any potential vice president appointment.

Other action

During today’s monthly public meeting, directors:
  • Approved the April 2022 comprehensive financial and operating reports, the May 2022 meeting minutes and the June 16, 2022 agenda.
  • Conducted and discussed annual performance reviews for Vice President and Chief Information Officer Kate Brown, Vice President Lisa Olson, Vice President Scott Focht and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Troy Via. Directors also approved compensation adjustments for these corporate officers.
  • Approved the appointments of Frontier Capital Management as a small capital growth investment manager, as well as Corbin Capital Partners and Neuberger Berman as private credit managers, for the district’s retirement plan fund.
  • Reviewed and approved OPPD’s annual health plan report.
  • Discussed and accepted the monitoring reports for SD 15: Enterprise Risk Management and SD 2: Rates. Acceptance means the board finds the utility to be sufficiently in compliance with the directives.
  • Discussed and approved revisions for board policy SD-11: Economic Development.
  • Received the monthly President’s Report, available to view at OPPD.com/BoardMeeting

Board workshops

The first of three workshops will take place as follows:
  • Wed., June 22: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Metropolitan Community College’s Fort Omaha Campus
    Mule Barn Board Room
    5300 N. 30 St., Omaha

A livestream link will be available shortly before the session begins via OPPDCommunityConnect.com. The board will not take public comments during this workshop. Following the meeting, public comment will be taken via that same website through July 6, and OPPD will be seeking customer input there, as well, with a Rate Design Project survey. The survey will be live from June 21 to July 6.

Two additional board workshops will take place Aug. 10 and Aug. 29. Locations are not yet finalized but will be shared in the coming weeks at OPPDCommunityConnect.com. All three workshops will be recorded for later viewing by members of the public who cannot attend.

Next board meetings

There will be no Board of Directors’ meeting in July.

The next all-committees meeting will be held both virtually, via Webex, as well as in-person, Tuesday, Aug. 16, at approximately 10 a.m. The in-person location will be announced to the public via our usual advance notification process through the news media, as well as out website, closer to the meeting date. Those attending virtually may access the meeting link and instructions at OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda, beginning at about 9:45 a.m., depending on the duration of a preceding, closed-session meeting, if needed.

The next monthly board meeting will be held in-person at the Legislative Chamber of the Omaha Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St., as well as virtually via Webex, Thursday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. The public can attend virtually by accessing the meeting link and instructions at OPPD.com/BoardAgenda, beginning at 4:45 p.m.