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Power Drive teams battle weather during Hastings competition

April 27, 2015

Hastings, Neb. – Student drivers in last Saturday’s Power Drive endurance rally faced competition not only from participating schools, but the weather proved to be a challenge with a damp track combined with cold and windy conditions.

Four different schools captured top honors in the four competition classes during the Hastings Power Drive rally on a one-mile plus course on the roadways at the Motorsports Park at Hastings. Next up will be this Saturday’s Power Drive Championships at Werner Park in LaVista.

Wayne High School won the Advanced Class by covering 28 laps in the 60-minute endurance rally, nipping Bancroft-Rosalie by 27 seconds. A second team from Bancroft-Rosalie finished third with 27 laps completed. In the Standard Class, Syracuse finished first by covering 27 laps with Friend taking second, also covering 27 laps, with Elkhorn taking third with 25 laps.

In the Novice Class, Chase County took top honors with 17 laps completed followed by a second team from Chase County in second completing 10 ¼ laps, followed by Stanton in third with 10 laps completed. In a highly competitive Exhibition Class, Elkhorn and Wayne battled for 60 minutes with both schools completing 28 laps, with Elkhorn edging Wayne for the top spot by 12 seconds. Harvard finished third completing 20 laps.

Werner Park in La Vista will be the site of the 2015 Power Drive Championship. Saturday’s schedule includes check-in and car inspections at 7 a.m. and braking- maneuverability testing at 8 a.m. The first heat of competition is slated to begin at 10 a.m. followed by a second heat at 11:15 and a third at 12:30 p.m. Awards presentation will be at 2 p.m.

In Power Drive, teams compete in a series of endurance rallies, using light electric vehicles. The annual competition is co-sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District. Power Drive gives high school students hands-on experience building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle. Teams have designed and built electric-powered vehicles during the school year.

NPPD and the City of McCook plant trees for Arbor Day

April 20, 2015

McCook, Neb. – This Wednesday, April 22, the City of McCook, Nebraska Public Power District, and McCook third grade students will come together to plant trees at Felling Field. The event is hosted by NPPD in celebration of Arbor Day.

Beginning at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, students from McCook Elementary and St. Patrick Elementary School will assist in planting trees, as well as learn the importance of trees and how to be safe around them. Besides helping to plant trees, students will participate by providing music and skits related to Arbor Day. The event is open to the public and will feature a welcome by Mayor of McCook Mike Gonzales.

Rachel Allison, District Forester with the Nebraska Forestry Service, will provide students with information about proper tree planting tips, as well as information on tree and vegetation planting around power lines.

McCook was chosen for the event to plant trees needed at the ball field. Four trees are being donated by NPPD to be planted at Felling Field. “Planting trees at the field, and recognizing Arbor Day, is a positive for the McCook community,” said Mayor Gonzales.” “We appreciate the involvement of the elementary students, as well as NPPD’s help in organizing this effort.”

“Hosting the annual Arbor Day event is a great opportunity to show NPPD’s support for the community of McCook,” said NPPD Account Manager Stan Clouse. “It is a great way to teach customers and school children about NPPD’s vegetation management practices and promote electrical safety and education on the hazards of planting trees near overhead power lines and other electric facilities.”

NPPD is a member in good standing of the Tree Line USA program, which recognizes electric utilities that demonstrate practices which protect and enhance America’s rural and urban trees. NPPD’s membership in the Tree Line USA program, sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, provides an avenue to help promote the safety and reliability of power lines through public education programs about the proper planting of trees and vegetation.

NPPD was recently recognized by Tree Line USA for the 10th consecutive year for meeting the organization’s standards including training employees in quality tree care and educating the public on tree planting for energy conservation and appropriate planting near tree lines.

NPPD has been recognized over the years for its professional arboriculture practices along power lines. The utility maintains vegetation on more than 5,000 miles of transmission and sub-transmission lines across the state to ensure a reliable electric system. This program protects the public safety for customers, remains compliant with federal regulations, and minimizes the cost of future maintenance. NPPD follows proper tree-trimming guidelines set by the National Arbor Day Foundation, Utility Arborists Association, International Society of Arboriculture, and the Tree Care Industry Association.

Nebraska Public Power District to implement innovative solution, curbs carbon emissions while growing economy

April 17, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District  (NPPD), Nebraska’s largest electric utility, plans to replace an existing coal-fired boiler at its Sheldon Station plant in Hallam, Neb. with one that uses clean-burning hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen will be produced by Monolith Materials as a co-product from its production of carbon black using natural gas as a feedstock. The collaborative undertaking is expected to create good paying jobs at the site and enable NPPD to continue to generate and deliver affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to Nebraskans.

To obtain this new hydrogen fuel source in Nebraska, NPPD is working with Monolith Materials – a manufacturing company that produces hydrogen as a byproduct in its production of cleanly made carbon black.  When burned, the hydrogen fuel produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. Through this agreement, NPPD is expected to reduce CO2 emissions at Sheldon Station by 1.1 million tons per year.  The Sheldon Station boiler using hydrogen as a fuel will continue to be capable of generating 125 megawatts of electricity for NPPD’s customers. The boiler conversion is also expected to result in a dramatic reduction in other types of air emissions, as well as aide in NPPD’s maintaining service as a low-cost energy producer for Nebraskans.

“We are embarking on a new chapter in the history of Sheldon Station and electric generation in Nebraska with the decision by Monolith Materials to locate in Nebraska,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Sheldon Station has always been a place of firsts – the first nuclear plant in Nebraska and now the first utility scale hydrogen powered generator. We are very proud of this facility and the people who work here.”

The addition of hydrogen as a fuel source will further NPPD’s diverse generation portfolio and will bring its carbon-free energy sources closer to 50 percent, while reducing air emissions from Unit 2 at Sheldon to close to zero.

“This is an example of the next-generation of American innovation and energy production that will also have a positive economic impact in Nebraska, and deliver clean and affordable energy to the state. This private business-led solution has the potential to support 600 new jobs and hundreds of millions of new capital investment in the state of Nebraska,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.

Monolith Materials will use a safe, patented and environmentally friendly process to manufacture carbon black, a common material found in thousands of products Americans use every day including tires, rubber and plastics, printing inks, and batteries. Monolith uses natural gas as feedstock in its process instead of oil or coal-tar as in the conventional process. A co-product of its manufacturing process is plentiful hydrogen, which NPPD intends to use to generate electric energy.

Monolith will build its new manufacturing facility adjacent to Sheldon Station so NPPD can easily access the hydrogen. Monolith will power its new manufacturing facility with electricity from Norris Public Power District, headquartered in Beatrice, Neb.

“Americans care about the quality of their air and water, and the sustainability of their everyday household products and energy use,” said Robert Hanson, Monolith’s co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer. “Together, Monolith and NPPD are helping reduce pollution, while still adding jobs and maintaining energy production. Additionally, Monolith plans to bring a cleaner process to a carbon black plant for the first time in the United States, which will help our country grow this important industry and expand America’s manufacturing economy.”

This initiative is not dependent on federal government grants or loan guarantees. Instead, innovative technology, affordable electricity and the country’s vast supply of low cost natural gas allows for the production of products at market competitive prices.

“This is the first large-scale utility operation to generate electricity through the use of hydrogen and something in which NPPD takes pride in having the opportunity to lead the way,” added Pope.

The companies expect to break-ground on their respective operations in 2016, with an expected completion date of 2019.

For more information, view


NPPD’s mission is to safely generate and deliver reliable, low-cost, sustainable energy and provide outstanding customer service. Working in partnership with the state’s rural public power districts, cooperatives and municipalities, NPPD helps serve an estimated 600,000 Nebraskans in 86 of the state’s 93 counties with retail or wholesale electric power and energy-related products and services.


Monolith develops innovative, cost effective, and environmentally sustainable technologies that convert natural gas into chemicals and materials for customers around the world. Monolith’s proprietary process, which utilizes natural gas instead of oil or coal tar as a feedstock, is more efficient as well as significantly more environmentally friendly than alternative methods of production.

Monolith is backed by KERN Partners, a leading energy sector private equity firm, and First Green Partners, a leading investment company focused on industrial technologies in energy, agriculture, and materials. Monolith is headquartered in Redwood City, California.


Norris Public Power District is a public corporation and a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska providing electric power to approximately 18,650 customers in a five-county area of southeastern Nebraska consisting of Gage, Jefferson, Lancaster, Saline and Thayer counties.  The District’s electric system includes 5,061 miles of subtransmission and distribution lines.

Four schools take top honors at Big Red Invitational; Drive Safe Challenge this Saturday in Grand Island

April 13, 2015

Lincoln, Neb. – Thirty high school teams traversed the track at the University of Nebraska’s Tractor Testing Facility Saturday seeking to take top honors in the Big Red Invitational, the second round of the Power Drive competition. The weekend rally saw an unusually large crowd that took in the two races under sunny skies.

Four racing categories delivered four different schools taking home top honors.

In the Advanced Class, Elkhorn was able to get in 74 laps in their electric vehicle to best Wayne which completed 72 laps. Bancroft-Rosalie took third, also with 72 laps completed but 1:40 behind Wayne.

Syracuse topped the field in the Standard Class by completing 64 laps to Elkhorn’s 58 laps. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Kennedy completed 58 laps, but trailed Elkhorn by 11 seconds.

In the Exhibition Class, Wayne took a narrow win by covering 64 laps in one hour with Elkhorn taking second with 63. Winside won the Novice Class by touring the Tractor Test Facility track 57 times, topping the Dundy County-Stratton team that posted 55 laps.

Best Pit Crew honors went to Syracuse.

The next Power Drive competition moves to central Nebraska with the Drive Safe Challenge to be contested at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island. Competition starts at 11:30 a.m. with the awards presentation at approximately 2 p.m.

In Power Drive, teams compete in a series of endurance rallies, using light electric vehicles. The annual competition is co-sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District. The series will culminate at Werner Park in LaVista where the Power Drive Championships will be held Saturday, May 2.

Power Drive gives high school students hands-on experience building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle. Teams have designed and built electric-powered vehicles during the school year.

Electric bill phone scam continues in state; NPPD warns customers not to fall for demands

April 7, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District officials are keeping a watchful eye on continued attempts by individuals contacting utility customers and businesses demanding that they pay their electric bill or face shutoff within 20 minutes.

On Monday, NPPD reported that the phone scam was occurring in Norfolk and based upon past history, other communities across the state could be targeted within the next few weeks. “Once the public recognizes the ploy, the scammers will take advantage of another community in the state. We expect similar calls may begin occurring in some of our retail communities such as Kearney and Scottsbluff, but this deceitful scheme may not be isolated to just larger communities,” said NPPD’s Customer Care Business Manager Robyn Tweedy.

The Ruse

The individuals, posing as representatives of the power company, will tell the customer that they are overdue on their electric bill and must pay up within 20 minutes or be disconnected. They are then instructed to purchase pre-paid cards in order to make immediate payment.

Tweedy said that several local businesses in the Norfolk area were unfortunate victims of the deception with the calls coming at busy times of the company’s operation

NPPD’s Practice

“NPPD does not do business this way,” said Tweedy. “If a customer is overdue on their electric bill and subject to disconnection, it will be printed on their monthly bill with instructions on what they can do to settle the account. They should call the number printed on the bill, not the phone number of the individual making the phone request.”

The malicious practice is not affecting NPPD alone. It has happened in other states with other utilities, and has occurred in Nebraska several times in the past, as recently as last year. If an individual or business not served by NPPD receives a call demanding payment on their electric bill, they are encouraged to contact their local electric provider to check on their account before making any attempt to pay.

Any customers that receive such a call should not attempt to make a payment and contact local law enforcement and NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) to report the request.

First week of Power Drive competition crowns four schools with top honors

March 30, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – The 2015 Power Drive competition started off a five-race series Saturday morning when schools competed in the Cuming County Open at the Cuming County Fairgrounds in West Point.

The first week of competition saw champions crowned in four different classes.

In the Standard Class, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Kennedy High School took top honors by completing 65 laps in the 90-minute endurance race. A second team from Kennedy finished as runner-up, also completing 65 laps, and third went to Elkhorn High School with 58 laps.

Wayne High School won the Advanced Class by completing 80 laps, with Elkhorn High School taking second with 77 laps completed, edging out Bancroft-Rosalie by approximately 45 seconds.

Also topping the Exhibition Class was Wayne High School with 74 laps completed with Elkhorn High School in second with 50 laps. In the Novice Class, Syracuse High School took top honors by competing 71 laps.

Next up in the competition, following a weekend off due to the Easter holiday, will be Saturday, April 11 with the Big Red Invitational on the East Campus at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. The event will be staged on the test track at the Tractor Test Laboratory. Competition begins at 11:30 a.m.

In Power Drive, teams compete in a series of endurance rallies, using light electric vehicles. The annual competition is co-sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District. The series will culminate at Werner Park in LaVista where the Power Drive Championships will be held Saturday, May 2.

Power Drive gives high school students hands-on experience building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle. Teams have designed and built electric-powered vehicles during the school year.

With stormy weather on the horizon NPPD urges safety around downed power lines

March 27, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – Weather on the Great Plains of the United States can be unpredictable in the spring. A snow storm one day, 70’s the next day, followed by the threat of tornadoes, an annual occurrence in this region.

Nebraska Public Power District, in observance of the state’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is urging Nebraskans to be vigilant of these changing weather conditions and to be prepared in the event of power outages due to spring storms.

“In 2014, we had numerous tornadoes that took down power lines in the central and northeast parts of the state during May and June. We had 228 transmission towers and numerous smaller distribution poles damaged during those months, leaving hundreds of customers without power,” said NPPD’s Distribution and Transmission Manager Joel Dagerman. “Our crews respond as quickly as they can to restore power, but we emphasize safety in adverse weather conditions for our line crews which is extremely important.”

One of the by-products of severe spring storms can be downed power lines. Tornadoes can bring down transmission lines in rural areas, but trees damaged by tornadoes or high winds can come down on local distribution lines, creating an outage over several blocks or an entire community. “We urge the public to avoid downed power lines, consider them to be live, and do not attempt to move them. It is important to allow trained linemen from NPPD or other electric utilities in the state to safely move any power lines to avoid the possibility of electrocution,” Dagerman added. “We also ask that if a power line is down across the roadway do not attempt to drive over it.”

He also pointed out that if a person driving in a car has a power line fall on it to remain in the car until power utility personnel arrive on the scene. If that is not an option due to a fire or other unsafe conditions, jump clear of the vehicle and shuffle approximately 20 feet away, keeping your feet together and on the ground.

When weather conditions are anticipated or begin to worsen, NPPD crews prepare for emergency response and will have trucks fueled up, equipment readied and awaiting to restore any power outage.

But there will be a period of time before crews can restore power, depending on the extent of damage.

If the power goes out, turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment (like air conditioners) or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment such as computers and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer, or furnace. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when your power returns.

If the power should go out due to storm conditions, please report the interruption to NPPD via 1-877-ASK-NPPD (1-877-275-6773) or your local public power provider.

18th annual Power Drive competition kicks off competition with the Cuming County Open March 28

March 20, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – Student designed. Student built. Student driven.

Those are just some of the hallmarks for teams set to compete in the 18th annual Power Drive competitions for high school teams from Nebraska and neighboring states, as a five-meet series of competitions begin this Saturday.

The initial Power Drive competition of the spring begins Saturday, March 28, with the Cuming County Open scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Cuming County Fairgrounds in West Point, Neb. Similar competitions will be held in Lincoln, Grand Island, Hastings, and LaVista this spring.

In Power Drive, teams compete in a series of endurance rallies, using light electric vehicles. The annual competition is co-sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District. The series will culminate at Werner Park in LaVista where the Power Drive Championships will be held Saturday, May 2.

Power Drive gives high school students hands-on experience building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle. Teams have designed and built electric-powered vehicles during the school year. After building their vehicles, student drivers test their creations against other teams in several categories: braking ability, endurance, maneuverability and overall design/construction. Instructors report the program boosts academics, school spirit and community interest and support.

Many schools seek local business sponsorships and affix logos to their vehicles with the businesses names, much like NASCAR.

Through Power Drive, students are challenged to do the following:

  • Apply classroom lessons to produce a one-person light electric vehicle (LEV);
  • Work as a team with other students to build the vehicle from the ground up;
  • Design and engineer the LEV to roll safely and efficiently;
  • Use problem solving skills; promote efforts in the community to gain support;
  • Compete against other schools to see whose vehicle performs best;
  • and, document their efforts.

Bancroft-Rosalie is the defending champion in the Standard Class from last year with Columbus Lakeview the overall competition’s winner in the Advanced Class in 2014.

A combination of points earned in competitive endurance, design engineering, and documentation supplied by each competing school determines the winners at the finals. Points are awarded in each category of Standard, Advanced and Exhibition, and combined to tally a final score.

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) began offering the Power Drive program to high schools in its service territory in 1998. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) became a partner in 1999 and began encouraging schools in the central and western parts of the state to participate. Programs similar to Power Drive are currently operating in 28 states.

Schools that have registered, thus far, to compete in this year’s series of competitions include: Adams Central, Bancroft-Rosalie, Beatrice, Bellevue East, Bellevue West, Chase County, Cedar Rapids Kennedy (Iowa), Cedar Rapids Prairie (Iowa), Central City, Clearwater-Orchard, Douglas County West, Dorchester, Deshler, Dundy County, Elkhorn, Friend, Harvard, Howells-Dodge, Iowa School for the Deaf, Columbus Lakeview, Millard West, NCK Technical College (Kansas), Northwestern Area School District (Mellette, S.D.), Pleasanton, Pocahontas Area (Pomeroy-Palmer, Iowa), Raymond Central, Seward, Stanton, Syracuse, Wahoo, Wayne, West Point-Beemer, and Winside.

The complete 2015 Power Drive Schedule is as follows:

  • Saturday, March 28 – Cuming County Open, Cuming County Fairgrounds, West Point, Neb. Check-in and inspections begin at 8 a.m. with the endurance competition starting at 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, April 11 – Big Red Invitational, East Campus, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Check-in and inspections start at 9:30 a.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, April 18 – Drive Safe Challenge, Law Enforcement Training Center, Grand Island. Competition starts at 11:30 a.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 25 – Hastings Power Drive, Motorsports Park-Hastings, Hastings. Competition begins at 10 a.m. and awards at 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 3 - Power Drive Championships, Werner Park, LaVista. Three heats of competition begin at 10 a.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.

To keep updated on activities, “like” the Power Drive Facebook page at

NPPD announces final route for transmission line

March 17, 2015

Stegall to Scottsbluff project

Scottsbluff, Neb. – After a more than one-year routing and public involvement process, Nebraska Public Power District has selected a final line route for its Stegall to Scottsbluff Transmission Line Project that will enhance system reliability in the western Nebraska panhandle region.

Landowners along the route were notified recently of the routes.

The project consists of constructing a 115,000-volt electric transmission line approximately 23 miles from the existing Scottsbluff substation to a new NPPD substation to be built approximately five miles south of Stegall near the existing Stegall substation owned by the Basin Electric Power Cooperative. There will be a short 345,000-volt transmission line built between NPPD’s new substation and Basin’s existing Stegall substation.

Since announcing the need for the Stegall to Scottsbluff transmission line project about a year ago, NPPD met with stakeholders, performed field studies, reviewed maps, and held three open houses in Gering – one each in January, April and August of 2014. A public hearing, required by state statute, was held this past January in Gering.

NPPD representatives reviewed the comments provided at the public hearing and after, as they continued to study the possible line routes. It was determined the proposed route communicated at the hearing was the best route.

“First, I’d like to thank the landowners for their feedback during the public involvement process,” said Project Manager Jedd Fischer. ”We had excellent participation from landowners whether in person, by phone or via written communications. By letting us know of any future plans for their land or any special circumstances, we were able to make better, informed decisions. Our goal throughout this project was to find the best possible line route and substation site with the least overall impact to landowners. We believe the process has resulted in identification of a good route.”

Now that final line routes and substation site have been identified, property owners along the final line routes can expect an NPPD representative to contact them regarding the next steps of the project. The representative will seek to schedule a “kitchen table” meeting to discuss all important project information. These meetings will allow individual landowners to ask questions, provide valuable property specific information, and provide notice regarding land use to the project team.

Additionally, survey crews will be doing preliminary work along the routes. Results from these surveys will assist in determining the final location of structures on each property.

Line construction is set to begin in the fall of 2016.

(Editor’s Note: a downloadable final line route can be found at


Muddy Creek to Ord transmission line open house events scheduled for March 24, 25 in Broken Bow, Ord

March 13, 2015

Columbus, Neb. – Three alternative routes and substation sites will be presented for public input during two upcoming open houses March 24 and 25, as part of Nebraska Public Power District’s Muddy Creek to Ord 115,000-volt transmission line project.

This will be the third open house on the project by NPPD since September 2014. Since then the project team has been reviewing public comments and meeting with various agencies while working to narrow the previously announced corridors down to three alternative routes. Senior Project Manager Mike Hasenkamp noted, “Although we have identified three alternative routes for this project, no final route has been determined. This open house will be another opportunity to gather additional comments from landowners before making a final line route determination.”

The Tuesday, March 24 open house will be held at the Broken Bow City Auditorium, 314 S. 10th Avenue, in Broken Bow, and the Wednesday, March 25 session will be held in the Exhibit Hall at the Valley County Fairgrounds, 801 S Street in Ord. Hours for both open houses will be from 2 to 8 p.m., and attendees should allow 45 minutes to walk through the displays, provide input, and interact with NPPD representatives.

The Muddy Creek to Ord 115,000-volt electric transmission line project will run from a new substation, to be called Muddy Creek located near an existing transmission line northeast of Broken Bow, to an existing substation near Ord. The location of the new Muddy Creek substation is yet to be determined and the route of the line is estimated to be 42 miles in length, and no route has been determined. This transmission line project will address voltage and loading issues in the immediate area and meet the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Reliability Standards for the central Nebraska area.

“We continue to have good turnout for the open houses by landowners and other interested parties,” said Hasenkamp. “Any landowners who were unable to attend the first two open houses and want to comment on their specific property are encouraged to come to this open house.”

The new line will play a vital role in enhancing the reliability of the transmission system in central Nebraska where electric load continually grows. In July 2012, a prolonged period of high temperatures combined with drought-like conditions, resulted in NPPD setting a record for peak electrical load needed by customers of 3,030 megawatts. The result was that NPPD’s transmission system in the central part of the state was stretched to the limit during the record load period.

Over the past two years, NPPD has temporarily located additional mobile generators in the central part of the state during the summer months in order to help maintain reliability of the transmission system. NPPD plans to have mobile generators in place again this summer.

The need for the line was identified through the Southwest Power Pool’s transmission planning process, which is performed annually to assess system upgrades. The approximately $34 million transmission line project is expected to be in service in the summer of 2018. Along with the transmission line work, the project also includes upgrades to the existing Ord substation and construction of a new substation east of Broken Bow.

For more information on this project, visit the website at, send an email to, or call the project hotline at 1-888-677-3412.