OPPD recommends substantial generation additions to meet rapidly growing energy needs within our communities
May 18, 2023
Omaha Public Power District’s 13-county service territory is experiencing unprecedented growth in demand for energy, the result of a thriving regional economy. However, with such growth comes the need to power it.
During this week’s committee meetings for the OPPD Board of Directors, utility leaders made a recommendation to meet the near-future generation needs of our communities. The need for additional generation was identified in resource planning work, which was guided by the district’s mission of providing affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy services. OPPD leaders have also publicly discussed the need for additional generation during opens sessions of the past several board meetings. In addition, a growth messaging campaign to keep our customers informed began April 1 and is ongoing.
OPPD expects peak energy load to our system will increase at a rate of approximately 100 megawatts (MW) per year for the foreseeable future. That’s the equivalent of adding about 65 metro area high schools or mid-size hospitals – in just one year. To put the growth in context, OPPD was only adding 4 MW per year just a few years ago.
OPPD remains committed to its Power with Purpose (PwP) generation expansion projects. To date, these include Turtle Creek Station (450 MW), Standing Bear Lake Station (150 MW), and Platteview Solar (81 MW), with more renewables coming. However, the exponential growth in the region will require even more generation. OPPD leaders are recommending to add an additional approximately 2,500 MW (or 2.5 gigawatts) by 2030.
“We are confident we can meet this challenge and provide the power our growing communities need, while maintaining the reliability our customer-owners expect and deserve,” said OPPD President & CEO Javier Fernandez. “We’re excited about the future and the opportunities that lie ahead.”
OPPD has been analyzing several resource options for this added generation, which will keep costs low and reliability high, while continue to reduce emissions over time as we diversify our resource mix even further. Generation solutions must be feasible to engineer, procure, construct and interconnect to the regional electric system in the time frame needed to reliably serve our customers. The utility remains committed to its goal of net-zero carbon by 2050.
This week’s recommendation proposes adding:
- 1,000 to 1,500 MW of renewables (wind and solar), which includes PwP generation that has yet to be sourced
- Up to 125 MW of battery storage (four-hour equivalent)
- 600 to 950 MW of thermal power (such as natural gas)
- 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 – essentially upgrading current facilities to allow for additional winter capacity and resiliency
OPPD remains committed to previously announced plans for North Omaha Station, including retiring its older units (1-3), which were converted from coal to natural gas in 2016, and converting units 4-5 to natural gas. The only change recommended at that site is to potentially add battery storage.
More than 90% of new load would be served by renewable sources with the recommended additions, according to OPPD’s current projections.
“It took us 75 years to get where we are today with our energy portfolio. And by 2030, we are going to nearly double our generation portfolio,” said Fernandez. “That’s incredible.”
Board members will consider the recommendation at an upcoming meeting. Meantime, customers can learn more about our service territory’s generation needs and OPPD’s proposed solutions at OPPDCommunityConnect.com. Customers may also provide feedback via that website until June 11th. They can also read more about the recommendation here on OPPD’s news website, The Wire.
In other action, directors:
- Approved the April 2023 meeting minutes and the May 18, 2023, agenda.
- Accepted the Strategic Directive 3: Access to Credit Markets monitoring report, finding the utility to be sufficiently in compliance with the board’s directive.
- Approved standing committee charter revisions and updates to the district’s bylaws and board polices.
- Awarded two separate materials contracts to Arvos Ljungstrom LLC. One, in the amount of $3,420,256 for the replacement of the Nebraska City Station Unit 1 air preheater baskets and seals. The other contract, in the amount of $1,022,980, is for the North Omaha Station Unit 5 air preheater baskets and seals. Installation labor services contract(s) will be awarded separately.
- Awarded a contract to Total-Western Inc. in the amount of $639,701, for labor services to replace the North Omaha Station Unit 4 air preheater basket and seals.
- Authorized OPPD to commence eminent domain proceedings, as necessary, to acquire all necessary ownership of land and/or permanent and temporary easements for an energy production infrastructure project.
- 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, June 13, at 10 a.m. at OPPD Energy Plaza, 9W, 444 S. 16 St., as well as virtually, via Webex. The meeting link will be available at OPPD.com/CommitteeAgenda, beginning about 9:45 a.m.
The next monthly board meeting is Thursday, June 15, at 5 p.m., both in-person at the Legislative Chamber of the Omaha 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.
The July board meetings have been canceled.