The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors on Aug. 17 voted to approve the Nebraska public power utility’s recommended near-term generation resource plan to address unprecedented growth in energy demand, OPPD said.
New and expanding commercial and industrial customers are contributing to that increased demand, as well as the addition of new homes and businesses within OPPD’s service territory. The increased electrification of the goods and services customers use on a regular basis is also a contributing factor, it added.
The additions will also meet a regulatory requirement designed to enhance grid reliability amid the prospect of extreme weather. The Southwest Power Pool, OPPD’s regional transmission organization, requires member utilities to maintain enough capacity to meet peak electricity demand, plus an extra reserve margin of 15%. That is up from 12% previously.
OPPD’s solution to meet near-term generation needs will mean an estimated capital investment of more than $2 billion, nearly doubling the district’s nameplate capacity, or maximum rated generation output, by 2030.
OPPD said it remains committed to its Power with Purpose generation expansion projects.
To date, these include Turtle Creek Station (450 megawatts), Standing Bear Lake Station (150 MW), and Platteview Solar (81 MW), with more renewables coming.
In addition, over the next decade, the utility will add:
- 1,000 to 1,500 MW of renewables (wind and solar), which includes PwP generation that has yet to be sourced;
- Approximately 125 MW of battery storage (four-hour equivalent);
- 600 to 950 MW of generation from dual-fueled combustion turbines;
- 32 MW or more of demand response (shifting or shedding electricity); and
- Approximately 320 MW of added fuel capacity and fuel oil storage at existing generation facilities to provide additional accredited winter capacity and system resiliency)
The utility also said it remains committed to previously announced plans for the North Omaha Station, including retiring its older units (1-3) which were commissioned in the 1950s and previously converted from coal to natural gas in 2016, as well as converting units 4-5 to natural gas-only fuel. The only change recommended at that site is to potentially add battery storage resources.
A rate increase of approximately 2.5% to 3% per year between 2027 and 2030 is likely in order to finance the needed generation additions. Utilities across the nation are faced with similar rate pressures as energy demand increases, OPPD pointed out.
OPPD’s rates average rates across all customer classes are 19.4% below the national average. Of the costs entailed in OPPD’s near-term generation resource plan, 86% are related to serving increased load demands. That expense will be paid by those consuming the additional load. Overall system reliability, benefitting all of OPPD’s customers, accounts for the other 14% of costs.