OPPD customers will see no general rate increase

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Omaha Public Power District remains committed to competitive rates, and that’s reflected in the utility’s preliminary Corporate Operating Plan (COP) for 2021. For the fifth straight year, customers will see no rate increase. The COP was presented to the OPPD Board of Directors at last week’s committee meetings, ahead of their monthly meeting today.

The proposed $1.4 billion budget demonstrates OPPD’s commitment to its mission of providing affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy services. And it takes account OPPD’s five strategic initiatives: Pathways to Decarbonization, Customer Engagement, Electric system Evaluation and Modernization, and Workplace Transformation.

The preliminary COP also includes the financial resources required in 2021 to further the expansion of the electric system for Power with Purpose, OPPD’s utility-scale solar project. Most of that funding would go toward the construction of modernized natural gas plants that will serve as backup to the solar. These facilities will operate 5% to 15% of the time, as needed per market conditions.

“Adding this generation will help OPPD meet the growing energy needs of our service territory,” said Javier Fernandez, vice president of financial services and chief financial officer. “It is also an important part of OPPD’s larger effort to be a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050.”

The budget also accounts for three planned outages of baseload generation units in 2021, including Nebraska City Station Units 1 & 2 and North Omaha Station Unit 5. These scheduled outages are to complete maintenance work in order to keep generating reliable power for our customers. In addition, OPPD is planning a number of circuit and substation upgrades, as well as underground cable replacements. And it allows for continued proactive trimming of trees near power lines to help prevent service disruptions. OPPD plans to trim along 1,000 miles of line in the coming year.

“I am really proud of OPPD’s dedication to reliability and resiliency of the electric system and to ensure power is there for our customers when they need it,” said Fernandez.

The public can view the preliminary COP and leave comments at OPPDCommunityConnect.com.

Directors will vote on a finalized COP at their December board meeting.

Economic development news

In his monthly report to the board, President Timothy J. Burke talked about OPPD’s role in Dollar General’s announcement that they’re building a distribution center in Blair. It’s an $85 million investment in the area and will create more than 400 jobs.

OPPD’s economic development team has been working with the company on the project since 2017. Access to affordable, reliable energy resources played a role in their decision to build the 800,000-square-foot facility in Washington County. Construction will begin this month.

OPPD worked closely with Gateway Development Corporation, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Greater Omaha Chamber, and the City of Blair to bring Dollar General to the area.

“This is a great example of collaboration with our city, state, and economic development partners to attract one of the largest distribution centers to Nebraska,” Burke said.

Power with Purpose update

The board also received an update on Power with Purpose (PwP) this week. The project team continues to evaluate proposals to build 400 to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar. They have narrowed in on seven projects in or near OPPD’s service territory. The team is currently completing technical, commercial, and contract analysis. And they’re providing solar technology outreach and education to leaders of Washington, Cass, Burt, Saunders, and Nemaha Counties, among others.

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