Columbus, Neb. – Summer may be in the distant future, but Nebraska Public Power District is preparing to meet customer demand and address mitigation to avoid a possible repeat of last summer’s hot and dry weather conditions, while also maintaining a reliable transmission system.
During the summer of 2012, NPPD set numerous electric generation records from early July through August, as temperatures soared and little rain, if any, reached the numerous Nebraska fields of corn and soybeans across the state’s mid-section. The demand for electricity was high due to increased use of air conditioning, the irrigation of crops, a lack of rainfall, and overall drought conditions.
“We were able to generate enough electricity from our various power plants to meet the needs of our customers last summer,“ said NPPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent, “but our transmission system in the area of what we call Zone 5, was challenged. In limited cases some curtailment was needed to avoid overloading the transmission lines and maintain the reliability of the system.” NPPD requested energy conservation by all customers in order to avoid the overloading and the voluntary efforts of the District’s customers and irrigators assisted in reducing the overloading.
Zone 5, which was impacted the most, covers the north central portion of the state.
Friday, NPPD’s Board authorized the rental of mobile diesel generators to be installed at key locations in Zone 5 and available for use between June 1 and September 30. The generators can inject up to eight megawatts of energy into the system at each of five locations in the Zone 5 area. Rental and installation costs of the generating units and fuel are estimated to be between $4.7 and $7.9 million.
Siting the mobile generators is just one of the additional steps that NPPD has taken since last summer in anticipation of another period of continued hot and dry weather.
“We immediately began looking last summer at the transmission system in Zone 5 and how we could avoid the same situation in 2013,” Kent explained. Since then, NPPD has been working on various equipment upgrades that also included replacing the conductor on a critical transmission line between its Battle Creek and North Norfolk sub-stations. Completion of that project is expected by the end of March. All other planned upgrades are expected to be completed before mid-June.
“We anticipate weather conditions similar to a year ago, and we have indications of additional irrigation growth in this area,” he added. “We continue to work with our wholesale public power to coordinate and communicate the work being done to provide the reliable transmission of electricity that our customers expect.”
Kent also pointed out that the new 345,000 volt transmission line proposed for construction between its Hoskins’ substation and Neligh will also be a significant improvement to the transmission system and provide long-term support for Zone 5. That line is expected to be in operation by June of 2016.
During the summer heat wave and drought conditions of 2012, NPPD set a record for generation with 3,030 megawatts on July 25. In addition, NPPD exceeded its previous record for generation of 2,671 megawatts set on July 30, 2006, more than 30 times last summer.