At their monthly public meeting today, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors approved the selection of Jeff Bishop to serve as the utility’s chief financial officer and vice president of Finance. He brings more than 20 years of experience in energy and consulting.
Bishop comes to OPPD from Washington State, where he was CFO of the Grant County Public Utility District for the past four years. He was responsible for a number of areas, including Finance, Accounting, Treasury, Accounts Payable, Information Technology, Forecasting, Planning & Analysis, and Corporate Services.
He previously served as the senior vice president, CFO & Treasurer of GridLiance in Irving, Texas. A NextEra Energy company, GridLiance develops, owns and operates transmission assets with public power utilities. Before joining GridLiance, Bishop served as chief financial officer of Seattle City Light. His utility experience also includes eight years of service at PacifiCorp Energy in Portland, Ore., where he worked his way up from lead senior financial consultant to managing director of Finance/controller.
“Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge from finance to technology and risk-management,” said OPPD President & CEO Javier Fernandez. “He will be a great asset to the utility as we work toward a number of strategic initiatives, including modernizing technology, hardening our grid for reliability and resilience, and enhancing the customer experience, among other areas.”
Bishop is a licensed certified public accountant and serves on the Large Public Power Council as a member of the Chief Financial Officers Committee. He holds a bachelor of arts in business administration from Washington State University, with an accounting concentration, as well as a bachelor of science in zoology from the University of Washington. Bishop is also active in community organizations, including volunteer work as a youth soccer coach.
The board approved Bishop’s appointment, with an annual salary of $450,000. He will start Nov. 15.
Fort Calhoun Station decommissioning update
During this week’s committee meeting, the board received an update on Fort Calhoun Station (FCS) decommissioning. Due to the diligent work of FCS employees and contractors, deconstruction work is progressing safely. A number of tasks scheduled for completion by the end of this year are already complete. Despite the many complex challenges of decommissioning work, the utility has set a target date of the end of 2025 for substantial completion of the overall project. The financial estimate is also on track with the planned budget. As work moves ahead, OPPD has the opportunity to further refine individual project scopes, schedules, costs, and critical interfaces between projects to maximize safe, efficient deconstruction, while continuing to meet environmental and regulatory commitments.
Power with Purpose update
This week, the board received an update on OPPD’s Power with Purpose (PwP) project to add utility-scale solar generation, along with natural gas generation. The generation capacity additions will help maintain long-term reliability and resiliency of the system and positions OPPD to meet our net-zero carbon goal in 2050.
As recently announced, OPPD executed a contract with Zachry Group to Engineer, Procure, and Construct (EPC) the two new natural gas plants and their associated substations -- Turtle Creek Station in Sarpy County and Standing Bear Lake Station in Douglas County. These plants will serve as peaking stations, used only as needed per market conditions (estimated at less than 15% of the time). Preliminary grading is underway at both locations and will continue through the end of the year. In addition, Metropolitan Utilities District’s Board of Directors has authorized approval of a ground lease and main extension agreement for Standing Bear Lake Station, with approval upon finalized gas supply agreements.
The board also received an update on solar progress for Power with Purpose. To date, OPPD has acquired 81 MW of solar with the Platteview Solar purchased power agreement executed this past spring. It is the first utility-scale solar project of its size in Nebraska. After executing a contract for Platteview, the utility closed out its first phase of solar sourcing this summer, allowing time to gather lessons learned.
The first phase was met with challenges, such as solar supply chain, federal and regulatory policy constraints, and evolving solar regulations for local planning and zoning jurisdictions. Nationally, one of the largest challenges for new generation is the significant backlogs in the interconnection study process required to connect to the transmission grid, which is regulated by FERC. OPPD is developing strategies to reduce these risks for its solar projects and remains committed to adding 400 - 600 MW of solar.
The district continues to work with key stakeholders throughout this project, as well as educating and advocating for utility-scale solar. For more information, visit OPPDCommunityConnect.com.
Pathways to Decarbonization update and upcoming workshops
The board also received a progress report on OPPD’s Pathways to Decarbonization strategic initiative. The utility’s goal is to be a net-zero carbon producer by 2050. Multi-sector modeling, which provides a clear view of energy demand, is complete. OPPD has also completed a reliability and resiliency overview analysis, however detailed modeling remains to be completed. The Pathways to Decarbonization team is using a robust modeling framework to ensure a thorough and broad-reaching evaluation of opportunities for carbon reduction. They are currently modeling optimized generation portfolios based on emissions targets, technology and cost assumptions, and constraints related to adequacy of resources. The team is also beginning to look at risk analysis.
The public will have the opportunity to learn more about progress on the Pathways to Decarbonization strategic initiative at two upcoming virtual workshops for the Energy Portfolio Workshop series. Workshop 5, the initial results, will be shared Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. The public will have a chance to provide feedback on these results. Then, the final results of modeling, with consideration of feedback received, will be presented during Workshop 6 on Thursday, Dec. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. Visit OPPDCommunityConnect.com to learn more and register to attend the workshops.
Resolutions of Appreciation
The board approved two resolutions of appreciation at today’s meeting, including one for Vice President Mary Fisher, who is retiring at the end of this month. Fisher joined OPPD in June 2015, as the division manager of Corporate Business and Planning. She moved into various roles until promoted to vice president of Energy Production & Nuclear Decommissioning in December, 2017. Fisher’s career in the power industry has spanned more than 35 years. Board members noted her depth of experience, work ethic, and strong leadership skills as they honored her tenure at OPPD.
Board members also posthumously recognized Martha (Mart) Sedky, OPPD’s vice president of Human Capital, who passed away Sept. 25 after a brave battle with cancer. Sedky shared her diagnosis with employees earlier this year to raise awareness of the need to pay attention to one’s health. She inspired through her leadership and left a legacy of courage and compassion. She also served the community on the boards of Grief’s Journey, Urban League of Nebraska, Heartland Workforce Solutions, and the Tri-Faith Initiative. Sedky previously served on the boards of WELLCOM and the Institute for Career Advancement Needs.
In other action, directors:
- Approved the August 2021 comprehensive financial and operating report, September 2021 meeting minutes, and the October 21, 2021, agenda.
- Discussed and accepted the monitoring reports for Strategic Directive (SD) 7: Environmental Stewardship, SD-12: Information and Security, and SD-13: Stakeholder Outreach and Engagement. Acceptance means the board finds OPPD to be sufficiently in compliance and/or that OPPD is taking reasonable and appropriate measures to comply with the board policies.
- Approved the Engineer’s Certification and authorization for OPPD management to negotiate and enter into contracts to provide design and supply services for natural gas equipment and controls for North Omaha Station Units 4 and 5, subject to review and approval of the final contracts by the district’s general counsel.
- Approved the Engineer’s Certification and authorization for OPPD management to negotiate and enter into contract(s) for the redesign, procurement of materials, fabrication, and installation services to replace exhaust stacks at Jones Street Station Units 1 and 2, subject to review and approval of the final contract(s) by the district’s general counsel.
- Awarded a contract to Klute, Inc. in the amount of $696,255 to furnish and deliver substation steel structures for a new substation to support load growth and reliability in the Sarpy County area.
- Received the monthly President’s Report, available to view at OPPD.com/BoardMeeting.
Next board meetings
The next Board of Directors committee meetings will be held virtually, via the Webex Events audio/video conference, Tuesday, Nov. 16, at approximately 10 a.m., following a closed session that starts at 8:30 a.m. You will be able to access the meeting and instructions to join at OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda, beginning about 9:45 a.m., depending on the duration of the preceding, closed-session meeting.
The next monthly board meeting is Thursday, Nov. 18, at 5 p.m., both in-person, at the Legislative Chamber of the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St., and virtually via Webex. The public can access the meeting link and instructions to join at OPPD.com/BoardAgenda, beginning at 4:45 p.m.