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False alarm sounded in Nemaha

July 24, 2014

Brownville, Neb.- A false message regarding a hazardous material spill was briefly disseminated via a Nemaha County emergency siren in the village of Nemaha earlier today.

The erroneous vocal broadcast sounded during troubleshooting and testing of the emergency siren used to notify the public of an emergency. Cooper officials noted there was no hazardous material released, and no evacuation of the area was necessary.

In the unlikely event of an emergency at Cooper Nuclear Station, tonal sirens would sound for three minutes. Vocal messages broadcast via the sirens are not, nor will they ever be, associated with any event at the plant.

“Protecting the health and safety of the public is – and always will be – the utmost priority for the Cooper staff,” said Meshelle Ferguson, Cooper’s emergency preparedness manager. “It’s something we take very seriously. Personnel are investigating the cause of the broadcast and will take steps to ensure any such messages are not broadcast in the future.”

NPPD celebrates 40 years of safe operation at Cooper Nuclear Station

July 9, 2014

Brownville, Neb. –  Forty years ago, as Nebraskans speculated on the second football season under head coach Tom Osborne and the nation was watching the Watergate scandal unfold, the Nebraska Public Power District officially entered the nuclear age. Cooper Nuclear Station (CNS), three miles outside of Brownville, quietly began commercial operation on July 1, 1974.

CNS employees and their families recognized the anniversary on Wed., July 9, with a safety fair focused on 40 years of safe, reliable operation for Nebraska. Employees manned booths with safety-oriented activities for attendees, and guest speaker and Boys Town Football Coach Kevin Kush motivated the staff to continue its safety legacy.

“Cooper’s employees are always focused on generating the electricity Nebraskans use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but our primary emphasis is on the safety of staff, communities neighboring the plant, and the environment,” explained CNS Chief Nuclear Officer Oscar Limpias.

Today, CNS has become one of the best performing boiling water nuclear power plants in the country. “The effort put forth by the employees to reach excellence each and every day has contributed to the continuing improvement and success of the facility,” Limpias added.

Over the past 15 years, NPPD has invested more than $500 million in upgrades to the station’s operations and safety systems. By comparison, the original construction cost of CNS was $313 million.

In addition to investments in physical equipment, there have been investments in the employees who work at Cooper.

Training, for example, has transitioned from lectures, blackboards, and textbooks used by the first class of operators to tools such as a control room simulator, a flow-loop simulator, containment structure mock-ups, and hands-on training. Reactor operators are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and must undergo rigorous testing to keep their licenses up to date. The Institute of Nuclear Power Operation’s National Academy for Nuclear Training evaluates Cooper training programs every four years to ensure they meet the high standards set by the nuclear industry.

The station’s fire brigade conducts special training for other firefighters in the area, and Cooper employs both a security force and an Emergency Response Organization to assist the plant in preparing for and performing exercises that address various emergency situations. Station personnel work with emergency management organizations from Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas to ensure NPPD lives up to its responsibilities as a nuclear power plant owner and operator to protect the health and safety of the public, the plant, and its employees.

The NRC and other federal agencies regulate and test Cooper’s emergency plan, as well as the plant’s security systems. The high training standards, well-qualified staff, and rigorous regulatory oversight are all part of a nuclear safety culture that is unequaled in any other industry or organization and ensure the health and safety of Nebraska and the surrounding states.

Nuclear energy is also America’s largest source of carbon-free electricity, producing no greenhouse gases or air pollutants.

“Forty years ago, our predecessors had the foresight to add a revolutionary generating technology to our portfolio – nuclear,” said NPPD CEO and President Pat Pope. “Cooper is one reason NPPD’s generation portfolio is more than 40 percent carbon free. Our customers continue to benefit from our commitment to meet the electrical needs of our customers, now and in the future, with diverse, low-cost and sustainable energy.”

Cooper Nuclear Station employs approximately 700 workers interwoven into the fabric of numerous communities around southeast Nebraska – Auburn, Nebraska City, Nemaha, Stella, Peru, and Falls City, on the Nebraska side, and Rock Port and Maryville in Missouri, among others. These employees are active in their local schools and civic organizations.

“NPPD is proud of Cooper Nuclear Station, its employees and its performance,” said Pope. “We expect to continue our commitment of providing safe, reliable and emission-free energy another 20 years.”

(Editor’s Note: Attached is a fact sheet containing milestones and numbers from Cooper Nuclear Station.)

Hershey Beach gets an all clear from NPPD, NDEQ

June 26, 2014

North Platte, Neb. – It’s all clear for visitors to use Hershey Beach at Sutherland Reservoir.

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was notified Thursday by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) that sampling results indicated blue-green algae found earlier this week was within the standards established by the agency and not a health concern for the public.

Monday, NPPD had requested NDEQ to take water samples and test what appeared to be blue-green algae in the water and along the shoreline of the beach.

As a precautionary step to protect the public, NPPD advised visitors to Hershey Beach not to swim or walk in the water until sampling results were returned. With NDEQ’s results, recreational activities at the reservoir can resume.

NDEQ conducts weekly or bi-weekly sampling for toxic blue-green algae and bacteria at a number of public recreational lakes across Nebraska from May through September, including Sutherland Reservoir and Lake Maloney that are owned and operated by NPPD. Samples are typically collected on Monday and posted on the web site on Thursday or Friday. Results are updated weekly on the web site at www.deq.state.ne.us.

NPPD asks beach users to refrain from using Hershey Beach waters at Sutherland Reservoir

June 24, 2014

North Platte, Neb. – Visitors to the Hershey Beach area at Sutherland Reservoir near Sutherland, Neb., are asked to refrain from entering the water until further notice as a precaution.

Nebraska Public Power District, which owns the lake, found what appears to be blue-green algae along the shoreline at Hershey Beach. Monday, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality took samples and will be conducting an analysis to determine exactly what the material is.

Results are expected back later this week and, as a precaution, NPPD is asking the members of the public and their pets to refrain from swimming or walking in the water until those results are in. Once the analysis is completed, NPPD will be working with both the DEQ and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to determine the next step of action, if necessary.

Blue-green algae, which can be toxic, exists naturally in marine waters, rivers, lakes, and ponds, but it can be harmful to humans and animals in high enough quantities.

NPPD keeping watchful eye on Missouri River

June 20, 2014

Brownville — Nebraska Public Power District employees at Cooper Nuclear Station are monitoring Missouri River water levels which have risen due to recent heavy rains and higher than average snow melt in upper reaches of the river basin. As of Friday afternoon, the river’s elevation was around 35.1 feet or 891.6 feet above sea level at the station. The plant is at full power and continues to operate safely.

The plant is elevated 13 feet above the natural grade to an elevation of 903 feet mean sea level as part of its design against flooding from the Missouri River. In addition, plant operators continuously monitor the increasing levels and water flows. For plant operation and public safety, NPPD takes the following proactive measures:  

  • When levels reach >895’ – or are expected to be > 902′ within 36 hours – Cooper follows a special procedure specific to anticipated flooding conditions.
  • At 896’, the Brownville Road is generally impacted and may be closed. If so, plant workers detour through Nemaha, Neb.
  • If the river reaches 898’ Cooper begins following an additional procedure which involves installing primary flood barriers.
  • Should the river reach 899’ NPPD would determine whether to declare a Notification of Unusual Event, which is the lowest of four emergency classifications.  
  • At 900’, plant personnel would install secondary flood barriers.
  • If the river reached a level of 902’, Cooper would enter an ALERT emergency classification.

Current projection estimates are for the river to crest at 1 p.m. Sunday at 893.6 feet above sea level or 37.1 feet. To stay abreast of the river levels near Cooper, visit NPPD’s webpage at http://www.nppd.com/flooding/.

The National Weather Service hosts information on river levels and a conversion chart is available, should you want to compare sea level to feet.

For historical perspective, Cooper has safely operated during previous flooding events. In 1993 and 2011, river levels increased to 901’. In 2008, the river crested at 896’ and 899’ in 2010.

NPPD providing mutual aid to Stanton County and Northeast Nebraska public power districts

June 17, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District line technicians are providing mutual aid to hard hit areas of Stanton County and northeastern Nebraska following Monday’s devastating tornadoes. Crews are assisting with the restoration of sub-transmission and distribution lines with line crews from Stanton County Public Power District and Northeast Nebraska Public Power District

Line technicians from South Sioux City, O’Neill, and Ainsworth are assisting Stanton County and lineman from Norfolk, Tilden, Ainsworth, Ogallala, and McCook are assisting Northeast Nebraska as part of the restoration.

“Always there when you need us is NPPD’s motto. And our linemen are stepping in to give whatever assistance we can to our fellow public power districts,” said Transmission and Distribution Manager John Humphrey. NPPD transmission line crews are also in the midst of making repairs to three damaged lines of their own.

One steel lattice tower on the Hoskins substation to the Raun substation 345-kV transmission line was destroyed by the tornado. NPPD plans to have a temporary structure in place so that the line can be reenergized. Damage was also reported on the Twin Church substation (west of Dakota City) to Hoskins substation 230-kV line where eight wooden structures were damaged. NPPD estimates return to service to this line late Sunday. The Stanton North substation to Stanton substation 115-kV line has two miles of wire on the ground. The estimated return to service for this line is the end of June.

A helicopter is being utilized by NPPD for overall damage assessment.

NPPD’s retail customers, approximately 1,350, were also impacted by the storms with outages in Wakefield and Norfolk. Power to both communities has been restored.

NPPD to issue up to $250 million in bonds June 9

June 5, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – The Nebraska Public Power District plans to issue approximately $250 million of fixed-rate, tax-exempt and taxable bonds on Monday, June 9. The bond sale will include an order period for retail and institutional investors.

Proceeds from the bond sale will be used to finance the costs of transmission capital additions to NPPD’s transmission system and to refund a portion of the outstanding General Revenue Bonds. The proceeds will also be used to pay financing costs.

It is currently anticipated that the bonds will be issued in $5,000 denominations or any integral multiple thereof.

NPPD has selected Wells Fargo Bank, National Association as its senior bond underwriter. Other underwriting firms include Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Ameritas Investment Corp., D.A. Davidson & Co., Piper Jaffray & Co., RBC Capital Markets, and US Bancorp.

The bonds will be repaid over a 30-year period. Individuals interested in purchasing the bonds should contact their broker or financial advisor.

NPPD’s Preliminary Official Statement

NPPD’s Preliminary Official Statement and the information contained therein is subject to completion, amendment or other change without any notice. The bonds described therein may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time the Official Statement is delivered in final form. Under no circumstances shall the Preliminary Official Statement constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these bonds in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the applicable securities laws of any such jurisdiction. A Preliminary Official Statement is available for review at http://www.nppd.com/About-Us/Financial-Information.

NPPD to restore power lines near Loup City, Tekamah

June 4, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – An unrelenting storm front moved across Nebraska yesterday and into the early hours of June 4, damaging a number of NPPD transmission lines in the Loup City and Tekamah area and causing numerous distribution outages in NPPD’s retail communities. Several of NPPD’s wholesale customers were impacted, too.

The storm’s impact began mid-day on June 3, with primary damage occurring in the north central part of the state where front winds in excess of 100 miles per hour around the Ainsworth areas were reported. The storm traveled eastward accompanied by heavy rain, extensive thunder and lightning, hail, and some reports of tornadoes. Norfolk even reported softball-sized hail.

As of this morning, 700 customers are out of service in Tekamah and another 122 in Craig, served by NPPD. Crews are on the scene working to restore power with restoration expected for both communities sometime later today. An estimated 5,000 NPPD customers were without power between 2 p.m. yesterday and this morning. Communities included Bassett, Long Pine, Norfolk, Oakland, Tekamah, Shelton, Geneva, Nehawka, Loup City, Craig, York, Pawnee City, Crab Orchard, and Lewiston. Norfolk had the largest outage with roughly 1,400 customers impacted. A farmer was temporarily trapped when a powerline between Oakland and Tekamah line landed on his tractor. The individual was unharmed and was removed safely after NPPD de-energized the line.

A total of eight structures were damaged on NPPD’s 115-kV line between Oakland and Tekamah. Additional patrols are underway this morning to assess the impact to areas inaccessible last night. Four H-frame structures on NPPD’s Oakland to Winslow 115-kV line were also damaged. Cost estimates and estimated restoration of impacted is unknown at this time.

NPPD crews from Kearney started clean up and line construction this morning on a 115-kV line between Loup City and North Loup where six structures were damaged. A North Loup to Spaulding 115-kV line was out of service but was restored overnight. Another seven structures were reported down on a 69-kV line from Ainsworth to O’Neill. This line is expected to be back in service Thursday afternoon.

Numerous sub-transmission outages  were reported involving NPPD’s wholesale customers of Cornhusker Public Power District (PPD), Loup Valleys PPD, Polk County PPD, Southern PD, Perennial PPD, Burt County PPD, Norris PPD, Butler PPD, Niobrara Valley EMC, and KBR PPD. Information regarding specific damage to these utilities’ systems and/or the number of their end-use customers impacted by the storm is available from each respective utility.

NPPD’s grid is designed with redundancy, to move power through multiple lines (or feeds); however, a major storm can damage multiple lines and structures leaving sections of lines or communities without power until the line(s) is rebuilt or power is provided through another means. To help Nebraskans contact their service providers if not known, NPPD hosts an interactive database on its website for identifying the utility serving a respective community. http://www.nppd.com/about-us/nebraska-town-index/

Power reliability: NPPD reconstructs tornado-damaged line

May 28, 2014

Line_Restoration_small

Restoration of the high-voltage power line between McCool and Hallam, Nebraska, begins. The line was damaged by tornados on May 11, 2014. NPPD expects the line to be energized and ready for summer loads by July 1, 2014.

Columbus, Neb. – In mid-May, tornados tore through approximately 15 miles of the Nebraska Public Power District’s  high-voltage power line between Hallam and McCool in the south central part of the state. Three other power lines damaged by the storm were restored to service within days, but reconstruction of the fourth and final line is underway. And while approximately 100 splintered structures may look like a gigantic game of Pick Up Sticks, the process is not that easy.

It begins with an assessment of all parts and pieces to be replaced. Once NPPD knows the magnitude of damage, it determines the time required to reconstruct. In this case, NPPD plans to energize the 345,000-volt power line by July 1, in time for summer’s heat. Bid requests were issued to contractors with high-voltage line reconstruction experience, and Brink Constructors of Rapid City, S.D., was selected to perform the work . Materials were ordered and  five days later began arriving at the construction site.

When we say materials, we’re talking more than 200 poles and 100 cross-arms, not to mention hundreds of insulators and thousands of nuts and bolts to hold it all together. Did we mention there were two steel structures also destroyed? In total, approximately 1.3 million pounds of damaged structures will be rebuilt. Nearly 90 miles of new conductor, 15 miles of fiber optic cable, and 15 miles of shield wire (the single wire at the top that “shields” the structure from lightning) will replace an equal amount of the same damaged by the storm. NPPD recycles whatever damaged materials it can.

Of an estimated $16.9 million in damages to the initial four power lines, this particular section represents an estimated $16.5 million of the cost.  (That’s a little over $1 million per mile.)

“NPPD’s business is ensuring power is generated and delivered safely and reliably to the people of this state,” explained Tom Kent, vice president and chief operating officer. “While we have several paths that carry power throughout the state, every transmission line has a purpose, and collectively, the entire grid can affect livelihoods and the economy of this state.” 

Transmission crews are assigned various tasks to rebuild the power lines and crew sizes vary. At least 30 individuals will be needed to complete the reconstruction, which is done in phases: foundations, structures, cross-arms, hardware, conductor/shield wire, and final inspection before being energized.

“In mere minutes, Mother Nature can destroy what takes several months and so many to build,” said Kent. “Electricity is something we all take for granted, until we don’t have it. NPPD wants to make sure we do.”

NOTE: High Resolution photos of  reconstruction’s start and damaged structures are available at:

http://www.nppd.com/newsroom/media-library/

Nebraska boaters: please “clean, drain, and dry”

May 23, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Invasive species may sound like a zoo exhibit, but for recreationalists, municipalities and power companies, such aquatic life can wreak havoc. They can cause serious problems when they infest rivers, lakes, and water systems used by power companies, cities, and boaters.

Vacations have started, and the Nebraska Public Power District, in conjunction with the Nebraska Game & Parks, has a request for recreationalists planning to enjoy several days on the state’s waterways: be aware of invasive species, such as zebra mussels and Asiatic clams, which can attach themselves to boat motors, bait buckets, etc., and make their way from one body of water to another.

Once transferred, they can attach themselves to pipes or other structures, damaging boat motors and reducing the ability to draw water into a facility, like a water treatment or power plant, which uses water for its operations. In addition, zebra mussels multiply at a rapid rate. An adult female zebra mussel can release up to a million eggs in a year, compounding the problem.

For NPPD, aquatic invasives could impact the operations of Gerald Gentleman Station at Sutherland Reservoir, the North Platte Hydroelectric Facility on the reservoir of Lake Maloney, and Cooper Nuclear Station along the Missouri River.

“Millions of dollars have been spent in other parts of the United States at similar facilities to unclog intake structures of invasive species,” NPPD Environmental Manager Joe Citta explained.  “We have been fortunate so far, but we need boaters to be aware of the potential for aquatic hitchhikers.”

The best way for boaters to address the spread of zebra mussels is to check their boats and equipment for these invasive species and remove any visible mud, plants, fish, or animals.

Boaters should clean, drain, and dry all equipment that comes into contact with the water, including trailers. If there is a place for water to collect, there is a chance zebra mussels or other similar invasive species may be transported. Boaters should drain bilges and live wells in their boats, power-wash the boat, motor, and trailer to scour off invisible juvenile mussels, and if unable to be drained, use a cup of bleach to kill any live mussels. It is also a good idea to dry the boat for several days before its next use.

These tips for prevention are available through the Nebraska Invasive Species Project at http://neinvasives.com/ and more information can be found on the Nebraska Game & Parks website, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/conservation/Invasive-Species/index.asp.