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OPPD approves plan to reshape generation portfolio by retiring three coal units


From the June 23, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 23, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors has approved a plan to "dramatically reshape" the utility’s future generation portfolio by retiring three of the oldest coal-fired generating units at its North Omaha Station. The measure will allow the Nebraska utility to comply with government regulations to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions at its existing power plants while preserving the district’s ability to service customer demand for electricity in the future, OPPD said.

Just last month, the board asked senior management to develop a best case recommendation on future resource options after hearing results from OPPD’s recent "Stakeholder Process," which solicited input from customers across its service territory on what they wanted OPPD’s future generation portfolio to look like.

The plan approved by the board calls for retiring the three units at North Omaha by 2016. The two remaining generating units would remain on coal but be retrofitted with additional emission controls. They would eventually be refueled to run on natural gas by 2023. Nebraska City Station Unit 1 would also be retrofitted in 2016, OPPD said.

"We listened to what the customers said and overlaid that with our comprehensive strategic plan and the extensive research and analysis the team did. We are confident it positions OPPD in the strongest and most flexible position for that future," said OPPD President Gary Gates. "It maintains our commitment to affordability, reliability and environmental sensitivity, which is what our customers told us they wanted. It also continues to provide a diverse generation portfolio, which customers also said was important to them."

The measure will allow OPPD to significantly reduce emissions and be compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which will require changes to OPPD’s coal facilities, the utility said. The plan also calls for the district to reduce its load by 300 megawatts through customer participation in demand side management. OPPD said it is on track for 33 percent of its retail generation load to come from renewable sources, 31 percent from coal, 33 percent from nuclear and 3 percent from natural gas and oil by 2018.

During the Stakeholder Process, customers said they realized changes to comply with new environmental regulations could lead to higher energy costs but they were willing to pay a slight increase, OPPD said. They also said they were relying on OPPD’s expertise to make the right decision on resource issues. The measure approved by the board will have a minimal impact on customer rates, ranging somewhere between 0-2 percent over a 20-year period, OPPD said.

"We are proud of the thorough work the District has done and we appreciate the valuable input the customers brought to us during the Stakeholder Process," Gates said. "It confirmed that OPPD is on the right track by providing our customers with affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy services."

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Vice President, Integrated Media and Communications
Meena Dayak
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Editorial Director
Robert Varela
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