OPPD Announces Biggest Wind Power Deal Yet

After the November 2010 election, when it became clear that the momentum for federal climate legislation had stalled, Nebraskans for Peace shifted its organizing efforts on climate change to our state's public power utilities. We decided to concentrate our outreach efforts on the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) because of its largely metropolitan—and therefore more compact—service area and governance structure. But we had no real notion of who these people were or what to expect. (And by our own admission, we had a very simplistic understanding of how our public power utilities operate to reliably and affordably keep the lights on for their customer owners.)

Over the past two-and-a-half years, though, we've had the opportunity to personally get to know many of the leadership team members of OPPD, from the CEO, Gary Gates, to directors like Anne McGuire. And we have found them to be thoughtful, open-minded and dedicated public servants—with a real understanding of the role carbon emissions (from the burning of coal) play in climate change.

The announcement yesterday that OPPD will be seeking to add another 400 megawatts of electricity from wind only confirms our already high opinion of this publicly owned utility. Three years ago, OPPD had a corporate goal of getting ten percent of its electricity from renewable sources 2020. With this new wind energy acquisition, OPPD is now on track to be getting 30 percent of its electricity from clean, locally generated resources by the end of 2015—tripling its stated goal a full five years early.

This is exactly the kind of vision and leadership Sen. George Norris, the father of Nebraska’s 100-percent public power system, envisaged would emerge from a citizen-owned electrical utility. When the OPPD board officially amended its mission statement last year to read, “To provide affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy service to our customers,” we now know that wasn't just talk. They meant every word and were already hard at work backing up their words with action.

OPPD ratepayers are not only fortunate to have such dedicated and creative administrators at the helm of their utility, they can rightfully boast about the national leadership OPPD is demonstrating in green energy development.

The article below, taken from the OPPD website, is cause for celebration statewide. Whether you live in OPPD’s service area or not, we know they would be pleased to receive your words of support.

You can contact them by email at: http://www.oppdlistens.com/

OPPD Announces Biggest Wind Power Deal Yet

Agreement Would Make OPPD a Regional Leader

It’s on track to be the biggest wind power purchase to date for the Omaha Public Power District. The District’s Board of Directors has approved an agreement to buy 400 Megawatts (MW) from the Grande Prairie Wind Farm, northeast of O’Neill.

Board members approved the deal at their meeting October 17. The matter now goes to the Nebraska Power Review board for consideration.

The wind farm is expected to be operational by the second half of 2015, and it would produce enough electricity for OPPD to supply power to 118,000 customers. The contract term is 20 years.

Once online, the new wind farm will move OPPD to among the leaders in renewable energy usage as a percentage of its retail sales.

OPPD considered a number of wind energy proposals from Nebraska projects that were far enough along to take advantage of the 2013 federal production tax credit. Grande Prairie was selected since it offered the best value for our customers. Simply put – it was the right deal at the right time and was all about affordability.

OPPD already has existing contracts with other wind farms, all within the state of Nebraska. They include farms in or near Ainsworth, Bloomfield, Broken Bow, Crofton, Humboldt, Elgin and Petersburg. The latest agreement brings OPPD’s renewable energy portfolio to 817 MW, nearly doubling the current capacity.

With the latest deal, the District anticipates 30 percent of its retail sales to customers will come from renewable energy sources by the end of 2015. That would substantially surpass our corporate goal of 10 percent by 2020.

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