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News Releases : OPPD provides update on latest work involved with its Power with Purpose solar and natural gas project

This week, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors learned about the utility’s latest progress on Power with Purpose, a project to add 600 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar and natural gas generation. The increased generation capacity will help maintain long-term reliability and resiliency of the system, while supporting OPPD’s work to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2050.

The project team provided an update to the board during their committee meetings Tuesday, ahead of today’s monthly board meeting.

Preliminary grading continues at Standing Bear and Turtle Creek stations. Zachry Group is serving as the utility’s Engineer, Procure, and Construct vendor for both generation facilities, as well as substation infrastructure, and has been planning for construction at each site. Zachry will soon begin to mobilize to the sites to prepare laydown areas – temporary sites for storage of equipment and supplies – in preparation for construction activities. Over the next couple months, major work will begin at each site’s designated substation area.

Easement negotiations are progressing well for the related Sarpy Southwest Transmission Project. Brink Constructors has been awarded the transmission construction contract, and their initial work has begun. Construction is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2023.

OPPD is also partnering with local community leaders and other stakeholders to raise awareness and improve understanding of the development process for solar facilities.

Pathways to Decarbonization update

OPPD’s Pathways to Decarbonization initiative will develop a roadmap to decarbonization with a sustained focus on reliability and resiliency. This week, the OPPD Board of Directors also received a progress report on those efforts.

Pathways to Decarbonization is working across four areas, focusing on Energy Portfolio, Internal Operations, Customer and Community work streams. Members of the initiative team shared their efforts on the Energy Portfolio and Customer work streams in a presentation to the board last month. And during Tuesday’s board committee meetings, the team provided an update on the Internal Operations and Community work streams.

The Internal Operations work stream created a repeatable, standardized carbon accounting framework that will help account for OPPD’s current greenhouse gas emissions. The framework includes a greenhouse gas inventory that is transparent, complete, accurate, consistent and relevant. This inventory is based on the World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol and has been independently verified by a third party. Data gathered will inform future projects to reduce OPPD’s carbon footprint.

The Community work stream involves four focus areas where OPPD is positioned to be a partner, educator and leader for community-scale decarbonization, beyond the scope of the utility’s energy generation and consumption. Industry benchmarking and best practices were utilized to identify strategies and actions OPPD is currently taking, as well as potential incremental strategies and actions in these focus areas.

Areas of opportunity for OPPD include:
  • Advocating for advanced energy codes and green building standards
  • Accelerating the electric vehicle transition
  • Supporting distributed energy generation
  • Addressing the water-energy nexus (the relationship between water used for energy production and the energy used to extract, purify, deliver, heat or cool, treat and dispose of water)

The Pathways to Decarbonization work streams identified findings to be operationalized into the business as core work, as well as results to be included in the scope of Advanced Feasibility Studies. These advanced technical studies are the next steps to enable progress toward the net zero goal.

Other action

During today’s monthly public meeting, directors: 

  • Approved the February 2022 meeting minutes and the March 17, 2022 agenda.
  • Received and discussed annual Strategic Directive-14: Retirement Plan Funding monitoring report. The district’s objective is to reach a fully funded Retirement Plan over the next 20 years. The report indicates steady growth, with the plan funded at 72% as of January 1, 2021, up from 69% on January 1, 2020. Directors accepted the report, which means they found OPPD to be to be sufficiently in compliance with the directive.
  • 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 Webex Events audio/video conference, Tuesday, April 19, at approximately 10 a.m. Access the meeting link and instructions at OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda, beginning at about 9:45 a.m., depending on the duration of a preceding, closed-session meeting, if needed.

The next monthly board meeting will be held in person Thursday, April 21, at 5p.m. at the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St. The meeting will also be held virtually, and virtual attendance is encouraged. The public can access the Webex meeting link and instructions at OPPD.com/BoardAgenda, beginning at 4:45 p.m.