Omaha Public Power District is among the top-rated utilities of its size for dedication to environmental stewardship, according to a new study released today to coincide with Earth Day.
OPPD was named a 2022 Environmental Champion, based on its performance on Escalent’s Environmental Dedication Index. The index represents customer ratings on utility efforts to protect the environment. The Environmental Dedication Index and other findings are from the Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential management advisory study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm.
Since 2014, Escalent’s Environmental Dedication score comprises customer ratings of utility actions to build strong environmental stewardship. Among those actions, customers rate utilities highest on being committed to clean energy and providing programs and tools that help them lower their energy consumption.
OPPD encourages energy management through a variety of demand-side programs including the Cool Smart air conditioning management program and the Smart Thermostat program, which both help to reduce energy usage during times of peak demand. OPPD’s HVAC Smart rebate program provides an incentive for customers to upgrade their home’s heating and cooling system to improve efficiency. We also have an energy-efficiency site, OPPD.com/ee, with tips and videos, as well as an energy usage calculator, to help our customers save energy and lower their utility bills. And the utility has a new Energy Education program, which is a STEM-based program teaching about energy efficiency, renewable energy and more.
OPPD is also committed to saving energy through the conversion of incandescent streetlights to LED streetlights. We are four years into a five-year project, which will greatly improve the efficiency of the nearly 100,000 streetlights in OPPD’s service territory.
In addition, OPPD just launched its Greener Together program. It’s designed to help customers achieve their own personal green goals while collaborating with others to support community-wide environmental projects throughout OPPD’s service territory. As part of this program, customers choose a monthly contribution amount, and all funds collected go toward selecting and supporting green projects.
Escalent’s advisory study looked at 140 utilities, overall. OPPD is among 31 utilities that received the Environmental Champion designation, based on customer scores. Some areas ranked include a utility’s encouragement of “green” initiatives for buildings and vehicles, and support for environmental causes.
OPPD’s mission is to provide affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services, and Escalent reports more and more utilities are prioritizing sustainable practices. The industry’s Environmental Dedication score remains at a multi-year high of 686 (on a 1,000-point maximum scale). OPPD scored slightly higher.
“With the ever-growing discussion of environmental issues, customers say utilities are responding well through initiatives and programs that help create a cleaner planet,” said KC Boyce, vice president at Escalent. “Measuring environmental dedication is now essential to doing business, as Wall Street investment houses are tying utility environmental stewardship to utilities’ financial performance.”
OPPD is working toward a goal of net zero carbon by 2050. To help us reach that goal, we are partnering with our customers and our communities on a Pathways to Decarbonization initiative. Our Power with Purpose project to add 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar will also help us reach our goals, increasing our renewable energy generation, once operational.
OPPD is also working to lower emissions from our vehicle fleet. All of the utility’s passenger cars are 100% hybrid or fully electric. We also have 21 hybrid sport utility vehicles, our first hybrid pickup truck; 45 all-electric forklifts, yard carts and man-lifts; and six plug-in hybrid bucket trucks with more coming.
OPPD encourages electric vehicle (EV) ownership by providing rich website content, dealer outreach and a ride-and-drive event coming this summer. In the past couple of years, OPPD added six Level 2 public charging stations in and around the Omaha metropolitan area with help from a Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) grant, in coordination with the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance. And in February of this year, OPPD installed five new DC fast (Level 3) chargers along highway corridors throughout its service territory. A grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy helped make the stations’ purchase and installation possible.
In addition, the utility’s Prairies in Progress project is converting grounds around a number of OPPD facilities to pollinator habitat for monarch butterflies and bees. The plantings not only promote biodiversity, helping pollinators, but they also reduce maintenance costs to the district.