Powering Strong Communities

Diverse Resource Mix, Conservation, and Employee Dedication Help OPPD Respond to Extreme Cold

A diverse generation resource mix, effective customer conservation efforts and the dedication of OPPD employees combined to help the Omaha Public Power District successfully respond last week to extremely cold weather that blanketed the state.

Leaders of the Nebraska public power utility shared the district’s efforts in reports to the OPPD Board of Directors during their committee meetings last Tuesday, ahead of a monthly board meeting on Jan. 18.

“The weather came on more quickly, was colder, and longer lasting than anticipated,” said OPPD President and CEO Javier Fernandez. “Ensuring our customers and their families have electricity in these conditions is vital and could be a matter of life and death. We don’t take that lightly, which is why we proactively asked our customers to conserve energy.”

Low river levels impacted North Omaha Station and Nebraska City Station and their ability to generate power.

In addition, the cold temperatures impacted electrical system equipment, causing it to freeze up.

These issues contributed to a call from OPPD for its customers across all classes to conserve power where possible and help prevent the need for controlled outages.

“Voluntarily, Nebraskans showed up to help each other out, and that is a hallmark of our state, I think,” Fernandez said. “We show up when our neighbors need us.”

Residential, business, commercial and industrial customers saved as much as 75 megawatts of demand on each day between Sunday, Jan. 14 and Tuesday, Jan. 16, which helped ensure OPPD’s 400,000 customers maintained reliable electric service.

Fernandez said an even bigger factor with this event was the abundance of wind energy.

“Wind generating facilities showed up beautifully. The 14-state Southwest Power Pool region benefited from thousands of megawatts of wind production providing support to grid reliability in challenging conditions,” he said.

Fernandez said this event shows the importance of OPPD’s diverse energy portfolio.

“No single generation source can withstand all types of severe weather, but by having a variety of energy resources, we are able to call upon one resource more if another is struggling to produce energy.”

He and other utility leaders also expressed pride in OPPD employees across the district who worked to mitigate challenges, coming up with solutions such as ways to heat the river water needed for plants.

“The ingenuity of our workers has been amazing,” he said. “From our teams in the plants, to those in the field responding to power outages, to those behind the scenes, their dedication to our customers and passion to serve our community is unparalleled,” Fernandez said.

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