OPPD Talks About Their Current and Upcoming Projects in a Monthly Meeting

A new year brings two new directors, as well as new leadership roles for the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors.

Sara Howard joins the board after being elected to represent Subdivision 2. And Mary Spurgeon also joins the board, elected to represent Subdivision 3.

At today’s monthly meeting, directors elected officer positions for the coming year.

·Amanda Bogner, who represents Subdivision 1, will serve as the board chair.

·Eric Williams, who represents Subdivision 6, will serve as vice-chair.

·Rick Yoder, who represents Subdivision 4, will be the board’s treasurer.

·Janece Molhoff, who represents Subdivision, 7 will serve as secretary.

Power with Purpose update

This week, the board and the public received an update on OPPD’s Power with Purpose (PwP) project. It will add 400 to 600 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar generation and up to 600 MW of backup, modern natural gas to the utility’s generation portfolio. This capacity is needed to maintain reliability and resiliency of the system as our communities grow, while significantly positioning us on a path to meet our net zero carbon goal in 2050.

OPPD has continued to review and evaluate technical and commercial sections of potential solar contracts. The team explored commercial and policy options to address the Southwest Power Pool interconnection backlog. They expect to have more clarity on project specifics in the next several months.

With regards to backup natural gas projects, OPPD continues to work with the City of Papillion on its planning process in association with the Sarpy County South site at 168thStreet and Fairview Road. The facility that will be located on that site has since been named Turtle Creek Station. Detailed technical assessments at the site are wrapping up for Turtle Creek Station, as well as a site in Douglas County at 120thStreet and Military Road. That facility will be called Standing Bear Lake Station. OPPD is also reviewing proposals for major equipment for both sites. And the PwP team continues discussions with fuel supply vendors. Upcoming work will include air permitting and preliminary site grading activities.

Sarpy Southwest Transmission Project

To connect the planned gas plant in Papillion to the OPPD power grid, the district has launched the Sarpy Southwest Transmission project. OPPD has started the process of planning routes for three separate transmission lines from this facility to help maintain system resiliency and reliability. While evaluating environmental, social, and engineering factors, OPPD is also seeking input from stakeholders on potential transmission line routes. The utility is hosting an online public meeting about the project Tuesday, Jan. 26, starting at 6 p.m. The public can access this meeting via the Webex audio/video streaming platform.

Those interested in attending to learn more about the transmission project should go here. You can view a map of the potential transmission line routes, as well as additional information about the project, and pre-register for the event.

OPPD is also mailing letters to property owners in the area of the transmission project, inviting them to take part in the meeting by asking questions and providing input.

Strategic Directive-6: Safety

The board also received its annual update on OPPD’s efforts in the area of safety – the strategic Directive-6: Safety monitoring report.

Kevin McCormick, senior director of Safety and Technical Training, shared the immense amount of work OPPD employees have completed, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some major projects he highlighted included fiber network expansion, multiple transformer additions, asset management, and increases in street and highway work.

Crews also worked through three large storm events this past year. And they continued operation of generating plants. In addition, meter reading was uninterrupted, and workers completed tagging and collecting efforts, as well as expanding customer connections while adhering to new personal protective equipment and physical distancing guidelines.

McCormick said 2020 was OPPD’s best year with regards to safety. Employee injuries declined by 15%, and recordable injuries dropped by 35%. Injuries requiring medical treatment beyond first-aid fell by 54%. And workers’ compensation costs dropped by 21%. And, the utility received the distinction of being named one of Nebraska’s Safest Companies for 2020 by the National Safety Council of Nebraska.

The board discussed, and at today’s meeting, accepted the SD-6 monitoring report. Acceptance means the board finds the utility to be insufficient compliance with the policy.

Other action

In other action, directors: 

·Approved the November 2020 Comprehensive Financial and Operating report, December 2020 meeting minutes, and the January 21, 2021 agenda.

·Awarded a contract to Nielsen Construction Co. in the amount of $576,700 for construction services associated with the installation of an underground concrete-encased manhole and duct line system. This project will support customer load growth in central Sarpy County. Construction is scheduled to begin in February, wrapping up in June.

·Approved the Engineer’s Certificate and authorized OPPD management to negotiate and enter into a contract with Siemens Energy for specialized labor and services for the Nebraska City Station Unit 1 turbine and generator work scope during a planned maintenance outage this spring.

You can view the monthly President's Report here.

To attend the upcoming OPPD all-committees meeting on February 16th, you can follow the Webex conferencing directions here.

You can attend the next monthly board meeting here.

(Photo by WOWT 6 News)

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