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News Releases : Latest OPPD initiative targets technology with customers in mind

Omaha Public Power District is mapping out its 10-year strategic plan. Five new strategic initiatives will lead the way, while maintaining a strong focus on OPPD’s mission of providing affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services.

These initiatives take into account dynamic trends and issues that continue to shape the future of the electricity industry, including carbon emissions and climate change, emerging sources of competition, the future role of electricity markets, smart technology, evolving customer desires, and more.

At today’s monthly OPPD Board of Directors meeting, Kate Brown, vice president and chief information officer – Business Technology & Building Services, shared information on one of those key initiatives – technology platform. This involves developing a scalable and secure digital ecosystem that will enable OPPD to extend technology to our customers and employees in a way that we cannot do today.

“We will take a holistic look at our assets, gaining clarity of our current state as we build up our technology foundation. And will coordinate and align with the other initiatives underway, so our efforts work hand-in-hand,” she said.

“We need to be flexible in the way our employees and systems interact, as well as allow for some customization to accommodate the ways in which customers want to interact with us.”

At last month’s meeting, Troy Via, vice president - Energy Delivery, spoke about electric system evaluation and modernization. OPPD will study a number of grid-related areas over the next 18 to 24 months, including maintenance, inspections, smart technology and worker mobility. Reliability and resiliency of the system, affordability, and environmental sensitivity remain top priorities.

In July, Juli Comstock, vice president-Customer Service, discussed the customer engagement strategic initiative. It aims to better understand various customer segments, which products and services are valuable to customers, and emerging opportunities that can help OPPD better serve our customers’ future energy needs.

In June, Mary Fisher, vice president-Energy Production & Nuclear Decommissioning, spoke about the first initiative, pathways to decarbonization. It includes a long-term study to address the future balance of generation, while reducing the utility’s carbon footprint.

The fifth and final initiative - transforming the workplace - will be introduced during the October board meeting. These initiatives all work to strengthen OPPD’s operations as we move into the future. Throughout initiative discussions, President Tim Burke said, OPPD will remain guided by 15 strategic directives, provided by the board.

Environmental stewardship

At today’s meeting, the board also received a monitoring report for Strategic Directive (SD) 7: Environmental Stewardship. Acceptance means the board finds the district to be sufficiently in compliance with the directive.

The full report was presented to the board during Tuesday’s committee meetings. It highlighted the district’s environmental efforts, including progress toward achieving a 20% carbon intensity reduction from 2010 through 2030 and efforts made to meet OPPD’s long-term goal of having renewables supply 50% of OPPD’s retail energy sales. In 2018, renewables accounted for 31.9% of OPPD’s retail sales portfolio. The projection for 2019 is 32.9%. And the projection for 2020 is 40%.

OPPD participates and provides leadership in the development of national, state and regional environmental policies and initiatives in support of its mission to deliver affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services. This work was outlined, as was the utility’s work to deliver innovative energy products, programs and services to help customers achieve their environmental goals.

A rooftop solar array project with the University of Nebraska Medical Center is one recent example of this type of partnership. OPPD’s LED streetlight replacement project is another example. The utility is also in its second year of providing rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles, and will use grant funding to install six level 2 chargers in public locations this fall. In addition, OPPD’s first community solar project goes online next month near the city of Fort Calhoun.

The report also detailed internal operations within OPPD that promote the efficient use of resources and minimize environmental impact. The utility is involved in a number of recycling efforts from batteries and scrap metal to cardboard, office paper and business furniture, and has diverted 1,227 tons of waste this past year as a result. The district also highlighted efforts to electrify its vehicle fleet, which now includes more than 200 all-electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as the use of biodiesel fuel.

Demand-Side Management Potentiality Study update

OPPD is committed to helping customers reduce energy usage by offering incentives through a variety of demand-side management (DSM) programs. One goal of DSM is to reduce customers’ energy consumption during peak hours, deferring the need for new sources of power, including generation capacity additions, power purchases, and transmission and distribution expansions. DSM is also a way to drive energy efficiency and enhance customer satisfaction through lower energy bills and increased OPPD product offerings.

At board committee meetings, held Tuesday, directors received a report on OPPD’s renewed DSM efforts and shifting strategy. The Demand-Side Management Potentiality Study update highlighted how the utility is working to better meet customers’ needs and desired energy reduction through its programs, as well as to reduce peak demand. As a result of this latest study, OPPD set a maximum potential savings target at 181 megawatts within its service territory and introduced a target of 47-gigawatt hours in energy savings.

Other action

In other actions, directors:

  • Approved the July 2019 Comprehensive Financial and Operating report, August 2019 meeting minutes, and the Sept. 12, 2019 agenda.
  • Discussed and approved a compensation adjustment in the amount of 4.5% for Troy Via, vice president-Energy Delivery. This brings his salary to $296,587.
  • Discussed and accepted the monitoring report for Strategic Directive (SD) 10: Ethics. Acceptance means the board finds the district to be sufficiently in compliance with the directive.
  • 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 start at 10 a.m., Oct. 15, at Energy Plaza, 444 S. 16th St., Omaha.

If a closed session is needed during committee meetings 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 next monthly board meeting will be Thursday, Oct. 17, at 4 p.m., also at Energy Plaza.

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