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News Releases : Diverse generation, energy conservation helping OPPD power through ongoing extreme cold
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As dangerously cold temperatures chill our service territory, Omaha Public Power District employees are working around the clock to ensure our customers stay safe and warm. Utility leaders shared the district’s efforts in reports to the OPPD Board of Directors during their committee meetings Tuesday, ahead of their monthly board meeting this evening.

“The weather came on more quickly, was colder, and longer lasting than anticipated,” said President & CEO Javier Fernandez. “Ensuring our customers and their families have electricity in these conditions is vital and could be a matter of life and death. We don’t take that lightly, which is why we proactively asked our customers to conserve energy.”

Low river levels impacted North Omaha Station and Nebraska City Station and their ability to generate power. In addition, the cold temperatures impacted electrical system equipment, causing it to freeze up. These issues contributed to a call from OPPD this week for its customers across all classes to conserve power where possible and help prevent the need for controlled outages.

“Voluntarily, Nebraskans showed up to help each other out, and that is a hallmark of our state, I think,” Fernandez said. “We show up when our neighbors need us.”

Residential, business, commercial and industrial customers saved as much as 75 megawatts of demand on each day between Sunday and Tuesday, which helped ensure all of OPPD’s 400,000 customers maintained reliable electric service.

Fernandez said an even bigger factor with this event was the abundance of wind energy.

Wind generating facilities showed up beautifully. The 14-state Southwest Power Pool region benefited from thousands of megawatts of wind production providing support to grid reliability in challenging conditions,” he said. “Though it could have been the other way around, as well.”

Fernandez said this event shows the importance of OPPD’s diverse energy portfolio.

“No single generation source can withstand all types of severe weather, but by having a variety of energy resources, we are able to call upon one resource more if another is struggling to produce energy.”

He and other utility leaders also expressed pride in OPPD employees across the district who have been working tirelessly to mitigate challenges, coming up with solutions such as ways to heat the river water needed for plants.

“The ingenuity of our workers has been amazing,” he said. “From our teams in the plants, to those in the field responding to power outages, to those behind the scenes, their dedication to our customers and passion to serve our community is unparalleled,” Fernandez said.

Board officer positions for 2024

During this evening’s monthly board meeting, directors also elected members who will serve in leadership roles in 2024 and decided to carry over the positions held in 2023. Eric Williams will continue to serve as board chair. Janece Mollhoff will maintain her role as vice chair. Craig Moody will continue serving as secretary, and Mary Spurgeon will continue serving as treasurer.

The board also confirmed standing committee assignments for this coming year. Amanda Bogner will serve as Governance Committee chair. Spurgeon will serve as Finance Committee chair. Sara Howard will serve as Customer and Public Engagement Committee chair. Moody will serve as System Management & Nuclear Oversight Committee chair.

Directors also approved standing committee annual reports for 2023, indicating their approval of each committee’s performance with regard to accountabilities.

Resolution of appreciation

At this evening’s meeting, directors approved a resolution of appreciation for Kevin McCormick, vice president of Safety and Facilities, who is retiring at the end of the month. They expressed their gratitude for McCormick’s “commitment, integrity and pursuit of excellence consistently demonstrated” during his 36 years of service. He retires after the conclusion of OPPD’s safest year on record.

Other action

In other action, directors: 

  • Approved the November 2023 Financial Report, December 2023 meeting minutes, and the January 18, 2024 agenda.
  • Appointed MacKay Shields High Yield Collective Investment Trust as an investment manager for OPPD’s retirement plan.
  • Authorized the sale of up to $1.4 billion of bonds over the next two years to fund the district’s capital expenditure program and refinance portions of the district’s existing debt at favorable market interest rates.
  • Awarded a contract to Harold K. Scholz in the amount of $549,800 for 15-kilovolt metalclad switchgear for the replacement of aging substation equipment.
  • Received the monthly President’s Report, available to view at com/BoardMeeting.

Next board meetings

The next all-committees meeting will be held in-person Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. at Blue Cross Blue Shield, 1919 Aksarben Dr., as well as virtually, via Webex. The meeting link and instructions will be available at OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda, beginning about 9:45 a.m., depending on the duration of a preceding closed-session meeting, if needed.

The next monthly board meeting is Thursday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m., both in-person at the Legislative Chamber of the Omaha Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St., as well as virtually via Webex. The public can attend virtually by accessing the meeting link and instructions at OPPD.com/BoardAgenda, beginning at 4:45 p.m.