Tag Archives: Cole Epley

‘We want to move fast’: Facebook’s new data center near Papillion should be online by 2020

By Hailey Konnath, Omaha World-Herald

As state and city leaders shared congratulatory handshakes and posed for photos with shiny blue Facebook shovels Tuesday morning, construction was already beginning on the social media giant’s new data center south of Papillion. “We want to move fast,” said Tom Furlong, vice president of infrastructure for Facebook.
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OPPD will add even more windpower to serve Facebook data center
By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald  

OPPD President and Chief Executive Tim Burke said he and the utility’s then-new head of economic development met with Facebook officials at the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters in 2013 to start talking about how to land large, environmentally minded electric customers in Omaha.

They met with other companies, too, and since the new rate was approved in January, other companies have taken notice. “We have several customers right now that are putting together potential expansion projects and will utilize that (new) rate to grow,” Burke said. Read more.

Trump eases way for coal, but market leans away

Written by Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

It’s business as usual for Nebraska electric utilities officials despite President Donald Trump’s long-promised rollback of Obama-era climate change rules. Utilities here and across the U.S. have already spent years bracing for and adapting to sweeping regulatory, environmental and economic changes in the energy industry. Officials said the president’s executive order on Tuesday isn’t prompting them to shift direction. Continue reading.

Photo: Coal-fired Gerald Gentleman Station at Sutherland near North Platte. Credit: World-Herald News Service

Why utilities don’t think Trump will stop the clean energy transition. According to Utility Dive’s fourth annual State of the Electric Utility Survey, the sector plans to keep moving steadily toward a cleaner, more distributed energy future — no matter what happens with the Clean Power Plan.


Nebraska lawmakers hear testimony on Sen. Larson’s bills on wind power, shared solar

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s solar energy potential ranks among the top 15 states, but residents who lack a home with a south-facing roof, or those in a homeowners association that prohibits solar panels, have been left in the shade. And despite fervent opposition to wind development in parts of the state like Cherry County in the Sand Hills, some communities and landowners are clamoring for wind turbines, which are a revenue stream during tight times on the farm. A pair of proposals from State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill aim to give some relief: Continue reading.

Photo: Wind turbines on the Brockhaus farm near Creston, Nebraska. Credit: Matt Dixon / The World-Herald


Nebraska conference touts benefits of wind and solar energy

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Ken HaarLINCOLN — Wind and solar have strong potential as homegrown sources of energy in Nebraska, but developers of that energy have work to do to convince more of the state’s residents of that potential, panelists at a conference said Monday. Increased development of renewable energy in Nebraska can combat the potential physical and environmental harm from burning fossil fuels, and it can mean more jobs and property taxes for the state, State Sen. Ken Haar of Lincoln told the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition.

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Public power: An industry in flux, by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

OPPD signed a $400 million contract with company that ran Fort Calhoun – terminating it will cost $5 million

Written by Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

OPPD on Monday began permanently shutting down the smallest nuclear power plant in the country. The facility’s power-generating turbine and reactor were declared officially “offline” at 12:55 p.m., and so begins the lengthy process to clean up the plant as it prepares for decommissioning . . . [Savings] from closing Calhoun early have already shown up on the books, with the promise of more to come. Capital expenditures at OPPD were down almost $56 million through September, more than 31 percent lower than during the same period last year. Read the entire article here.

As Fort Calhoun nuclear plant closes, OPPD weighs its future in renewable energy

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald


The winds of change are howling in the Nebraska energy industry. The Omaha Public Power District’s closure of its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant today clears the way for new renewable generation to fill the void left by the 478-megawatt plant, even though the utility plans to replace just a portion of its output. OPPD will have virtually doubled the portion of energy it receives from renewable sources by the time the new year rolls around. Renewables refers to sources of energy that aren’t depleted when they’re used — wind, sun and water, for instance. Continue reading.

Photo: The Grande Prairie wind farm, the largest wind project in Nebraska history, will eventually generate more than 818 meagawatts, almost twice the output of the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, which closes today. OPPD most likely will begin taking energy from Grande Prairie by the start of next year. Credit: Megan Farmer / Omaha World-Herald

Candidates seek spots on OPPD board as utility weathers closing of Fort Calhoun, rate restructuring

Written by Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald



Four candidates vying for two seats on the Omaha Public Power District’s board of directors will inherit oversight of a utility that is in a state of flux. In OPPD’s Subdivision 4, which includes portions of Sarpy County as well as Cass, Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee and Richardson Counties, incumbent Fred Ulrich is challenged by Rick Yoder. In Subdivision 5, which covers portions of west and central Omaha, Craig Moody and Tom Mulligan seek to replace director John Green, who is not seeking re-election after 30 years on the board.

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‘Simply an economic decision’: OPPD to close Fort Calhoun nuclear plant by end of 2016

By Cole Epley / World-Herald staff writer

tim burke : blox images

Every year that the Omaha Public Power District waited to close its nuclear plant at Fort Calhoun was another year that the utility’s ratepayers held the bag for a facility that its management said had become too expensive to operate.

OPPD’s board put an end to that on Thursday, voting unanimously to close the country’s smallest nuclear plant by the end of the year. About 700 jobs are tied to the plant. Continue reading

Photo of OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke. Credit: Ryan Soderlan / Omaha World Herald

As revenue falls with natural gas prices, Tenaska builds renewable energy profile

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Making money in the energy business isn’t nearly as easy as it was in 2008, when natural gas was fetching more than five times the price it’s bringing today.

But Omaha-based Tenaska didn’t have any investments in wind energy at that time, nor did it have any holdings in solar power, which these days are helping offset margins that have cratered with natural gas prices, the company said.

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Doug Perry, Asset Manager for Tenaska, serves as an advisor to Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors.