Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News / Energy News Network
The staff began looking into decarbonization options nearly two years ago, [Mary Fisher, OPPD’s vice president for energy production and nuclear decommissioning] said, but picked up the pace last fall — about the time that new board members interested in cleaner energy were elected. The change stands in contrast to the state’s largest utility, the Nebraska Public Power District, where many board members continue to downplay the urgency of climate change even after catastrophic flooding in the state earlier this year. Fisher said the board is not the only reason the utility is moving toward cleaner energy. “The factor really has been the ongoing conversation about climate change and carbon emissions nationally,” she said. “You’re seeing it on the nightly news reports, you’re seeing it in the presidential debates, you’re seeing it all over.” Read more here.
Photo by Laura King-Homan, OPPD’s The Wire:Visitors view components of the Omaha Public Power District’s Sholes Wind Farm under construction near Wayne, Nebraska in November.
Omaha Public Power District is leading the way the future is powered. The district has a number of customer program offerings to support that vision and provided an update to the OPPD Board of Directors at their monthly meeting.
Community Solar Program
OPPD launched its first community solar program this spring with an agreement to purchase all 5 megawatts (MW) of energy from an array that’s under construction in the City of Fort Calhoun. The facility will be owned and operated by NextEra Energy. Construction was delayed due to the recent floods, but it is expected to be completed and generating electricity by mid-August at the latest.
Continue reading here to learn more about this and the following three additional OPPD customer program offerings:
Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebate Pilot Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Pilot LED streetlight conversion
As Midwest utilities offer solar subscription plans, customers are sending a clear message: They want more. On May 4, the Omaha Public Power District sold the last available share for a utility-owned solar project under construction on a piece of degraded land a few miles from the utility’s shuttered nuclear plant.
“We knew the demand was there, but I can say we were overwhelmingly surprised it sold out so quickly,” said Tricia McKnight, a product specialist with the Omaha Public Power District. “I think customers are a lot more environmentally sensitive than we expected.” Continue reading here.
Click here to learn more about OPPD’s community-scale solar project and watch brief videos about the program by two well-known OPPD customers and community leaders, David Corbin and Don Preister.
Lincoln Electric System Photo: Generating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES solar facility was Nebraska’s first community-scale solar installation. The solar farm is located on a portion of a 46-acre site near Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets.
See Solar Examples for brief descriptions and photos of more Nebraska community-scale projects and Community-Scale Solar to read news stories about local and national projects, completed or under development.
By Laura King-Homan, Cris Averett, Jason Kuiper, and Joe Comstock, The Wire
OPPD lives out its commitment to the communities it serves through actions rather than words. Since it came online in 2015, The Wire has pulled back the curtain to show customers what OPPD does. Check in here for the next six weeks to see how OPPD serves customers and how we work to keep the lights on. This daily effort is an extension of our transparency. It’s real. It’s not glamorous. But it’s important work. Read more here.
Photo: Work is continuing on the newest wind farm in OPPD’s generation portfolio.
About Laura King-Homan
Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.
About Cris Averett
Cris Averett is responsible for communications at OPPD’s Fort Calhoun Station, as well as an array of communications projects across the district. Whenever feasible, Cris enjoys spending time with his wife and offspring, listening to music, tinkering with toys and playing a splendid game of cribbage.
About Jason Kuiper
Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He formerly worked as a staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald.
About Joe Comstock
Joe Comstock is the creative coordinator for OPPD’s Corporate Marketing & Communications group. Skilled in all things creative, he can make the mundane – magical, the trite – tantalizing and the difficult – digestible.
Nebraska lawmakers on Thursday passed LB 405 to update the state’s energy codes for residential and commercial buildings, potentially the first substantial changes to the regulations in a decade. The state is currently utilizing the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for its building energy codes, but if Gov. Pete Ricketts, R, signs the bill, Nebraska will switch to the 2018 version, yielding the strongest efficiency codes in the Midwest, advocates say . . . The bill was presented to Ricketts on May 2, and state law gives the Nebraska governor five days to act, not including Sundays. Absent a veto, the new codes will be adopted at the end of Wednesday. Read more here.
Additional Recommended Reading
Wind farm sites guided by data, science, relationships, The Wire, OPPD Blog OPPD does not build its own wind energy facilities. Instead, they contract with developers such as NextEra Energy Resources on projects and enter into purchase agreements for the energy produced. OPPD and other public power utilities use PPAs for renewable projects to be eligible for federal production tax credits. They then pass these savings on to their customers. These partnerships occur after OPPD issues a request for proposal (RFP) and evaluates bids from companies competing for OPPD’s business. Wind facilities are often sited before OPPD enters into a purchase agreement. To date, all of the wind farms contracted with OPPD are located in Nebraska. And that is not a coincidence.
When employees of the Facebook data center in Papillion go to work each day, they’ll be greeted by a colorful 76-foot mural made by a Nebraskan, for Nebraskans. Created by Omaha native Justin Queal, the mural incorporates themes and images familiar to locals — like a monarch butterfly akin to the ones emblazoned on Papillion’s water towers and an overhead view of crop fields — all set against a backdrop heavy with rich, Husker red. Read more here.
Facebook photo of one section of the mural created by local artist Justin Queal.
Previously Posted News Stories & Editorial
How do corporate wind deals benefit local communities?,Into the Wind, AWEA Blog It’s clear that states that make it easy to buy renewable energy have a competitive edge over others when attracting corporate investment. What do the community benefits of non-utility wind deals look like? Case studies of wind farms with corporate investments in Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma provide good examples. Enel Photo of Nebraska’s Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm.
Omaha Public Power District News Release
February 14, 2019
Omaha Public Power District is committed to investing in the communities it serves. Furthering that effort, today, the OPPD Board of Directors approved a labor contract for streetlight
conversion work within its service territory to replace current technology with light emitting
diode (LED) technology.
This is part of the district’s five-year plan, officially beginning next month, to replace nearly 100,000 existing high-pressure sodium fixtures within its service territory. To date, OPPD has
converted approximately 400 burned out streetlights to LED. The district is utilizing a contractor alongside OPPD employees due to the volume and time frame of work taking place. Continue reading here.
PGE, NextEra team up for largest wind-solar-storage project in US, Utility Dive PGE is moving “aggressively” to integrate smart grid technology alongside renewables, President and CEO Maria Pope said in a statement. The Wheatridge project will be “a model for integrating renewable generation and storage,” she said, in order to cost-effectively reduce emissions and balance the grid.
The 1,487 solar panels sit atop the three largest roof surfaces on the UNMC campus.
The panels can generate up to 500 kilowatts of solar-powered electricity to help power the campus, and “its energy production will equal the average annual electricity use of 60 homes in OPPD’s service territory,” said Jared Friesen of Morrissey Engineering, which designed the project . . . Darren Dageforde, executive director of utilities and energy utilization for UNMC, said the med center already has made great strides in reducing energy use and increasing efficiency. “Having a renewable energy source on campus demonstrates our commitment to being carbon neutral by 2030 and parallels our mission to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities.” Read the entire article here.
Dr. Bing Chen, Ph.D., UNL Professor of electrical and computer engineering, is “developing the area’s first sustainable small house.”
It is a project the former chair of the computer and electronics department feels will be a disruptive technology. Chen said it will change the way he and other baby boomers find alternative housing solutions during their golden years.
Dr. Chen is partnering with OPPD and other groups on the Small Sustainable House.
Construction will begin this summer on UNO’s main campus. With so many baby boomers
ready to enter their next phase, Chen said, good affordable housing is a growing need all over the country. Read more here.
Prototype Image: Chen said the home is well-insulated and can be heated with just 16 candles. The home will have 32 PV solar collectors on the roof to generate electricity and have a whole-house battery storage system.
Co-Sponsored by Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club, OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team, The Nebraska Conservation Education Fund
Our guest speakers will be Tricia McKnight, OPPD Product Specialist, and Heather Siebken, Director of Product Development & Marketing. They will present an overview of OPPD’s community solar program and how customer-owners will be able to participate. A Q&A will follow their presentation.