OPPD board approves plan that includes adding up to 2.5 gigawatts of new generation capacity to meet unprecedented demand for electricity
August 17, 2023
At their monthly board meeting this evening, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors voted to approve the utility’s recommended near-term generation resource plan to address unprecedented growth in energy demand.
New and expanding commercial and industrial customers are contributing to that increased demand, as well as the addition of new homes and businesses within our service territory. The increased electrification of the goods and services our customers use on a regular basis is also a contributing factor.
The additions will also meet a regulatory requirement designed to enhance grid reliability amid the prospect of extreme weather, something utilities across the country are working to address. The Southwest Power Pool, OPPD’s regional transmission organization, requires member utilities to maintain enough capacity to meet peak electricity demand, plus an extra reserve margin of 15%. That’s up from 12% previously.
OPPD’s solution to meet near-term generation needs will mean an estimated capital investment of more than $2 billion, nearly doubling the district’s nameplate capacity, or maximum rated generation output, by 2030.
“This is a pivotal moment for the utility, no doubt about it,” said OPPD President and CEO Javier Fernandez. “Our planned generation additions will help ensure our customers have the power they need when they need it, as our communities continue to thrive.”
OPPD remains committed to its Power with Purpose (PwP) generation expansion projects. To date, these include Turtle Creek Station (450 megawatts or MW), Standing Bear Lake Station (150 MW), and Platteview Solar (81 MW), with more renewables coming. In addition, over the next decade, the utility will add:
- 1,000 to 1,500 MW of renewables (wind and solar), which includes PwP generation that has yet to be sourced
- Approximately 125 MW of battery storage (four-hour equivalent)
- 600 to 950 MW of generation from dual-fueled combustion turbines
- 32 MW or more of demand response (shifting or shedding electricity)
- Approximately 320 MW of added fuel capacity and fuel oil storage at existing generation facilities to provide additional accredited winter capacity and system resiliency)
The utility remains committed to previously announced plans for North Omaha Station, including retiring its older units (1-3) which were commissioned in the 1950s and previously converted from coal to natural gas in 2016, as well as converting units 4-5 to natural gas-only fuel. The only change recommended at that site is to potentially add battery storage resources.
A rate increase of approximately 2.5% to 3% per year between 2027 and 2030 is likely in order to finance the needed generation additions. Utilities across the nation are faced with similar rate pressures as energy demand increases. OPPD’s rates average rates across all customer classes are 19.4% below the national average. Of the costs entailed in OPPD’s near-term resolution plan, 86% are related to serving increased load demands. That expense will be paid by those consuming the additional load. Overall system reliability, benefitting all of OPPD’s customers, accounts for the other 14% of costs.
In other action, directors:
- Approved the May and June 2023 Financial Reports, June 2023 meeting minutes and the August 17, 2023, agenda.
- Accepted policy revisions to Strategic Directive (SD) 9: Integrated Systems Planning, stemming from discussions on how to monitor progress with aforementioned new generation additions. This follows a month-long period of public comments, which the board heard and took into consideration.
- Awarded a labor contract to High Voltage Inc., in the amount of $1,066,681, to construct and modify numerous transmission lines and poles throughout OPPD’s service territory, including the replacement or relocation of multiple structures on the 345-kilovolt (kV), 161kV, and 69kV transmission systems to accommodate customer relocations, capacity expansions, and end-of-life asset replacements. This work will begin next month and conclude in December 2023.
- Received the monthly President’s Report, available at OPPD.com/BoardMeeting.
Next board meetings
The next all-committees meeting will be held in-person Tuesday, September 19, at 10 a.m. at Blue Cross Blue Shield, 1919 Aksarben Dr., as well as virtually, via Webex. The meeting link will be available at OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda, beginning about 9:45 a.m.
The next board meeting is Thursday, September 21, at 5 p.m., both in-person at the Legislative Chamber of the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St., as well as virtually via Webex. The public can attend virtually by accessing the meeting link and instructions at OPPD.com/BoardAgenda, beginning at 4:45 p.m.