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NPPD, South Sioux City join together for tree planting

April 14, 2014

South Sioux City, Neb. – Arbor Day will be observed in South Sioux City on Thursday, April 24, when the city and Nebraska Public Power District join together for a special community event that will include planting of trees in the area hard hit by flooding in 2011.

Fourth grade students from South Sioux City’s Harney Elementary School will help plant trees at the South Sioux City soccer fields, beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday. The event, which is open to the public, will feature a welcome by Councilman Rod Koch, safety and educational activities with the participating students, plus the tree planting. Students will also be put on skits, read poetry, and sing songs related to Arbor Day.

A representative of the Nebraska Forestry Service will participate and students and event participants will be given information on tree and vegetation planting around power lines.

South Sioux City was chosen for the NPPD-sponsored event because of the destruction the city’s soccer fields suffered in 2011, during flooding along the Missouri River. NPPD is donating approximately 12 trees for planting around the soccer fields.

“The opportunity to plant new trees at the soccer fields and recognizing Arbor Day is a positive for the South Sioux City community,” said City Manager of South Sioux City Lance Hedquist. “We appreciate the involvement of the elementary students for helping to plant the trees and NPPD for supporting this effort”.

“The Arbor Day event is a great opportunity to show NPPD’s support for the community of South Sioux City,” said NPPD’s Distribution Superintendent Doug Klug. “It is a great way to teach customers about NPPD’s vegetation management practices and promote electrical safety and education on the hazards of planting 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 ninth 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. It 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.

Wayne, Syracuse, Elkhorn top Hastings rally; Drive Safe Challenge Saturday at Grand Island

April 14, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Sunny skies and warm weather greeted week two of the Power Drive competition when high school teams traversed the mile-plus, winding track at the Motorsport Park Hastings.

This past Saturday’s endurance rally in Hastings included four classes of cars – advanced, exhibition, novice, and standard divisions. Wayne High School captured first place in the Advanced division for the second year in a row, completing 29 7/8 laps during the 60-minute endurance rally. Runner-up went to Elkhorn High School a lap back with 28 7/8 laps, and third place to Cedar Rapids Kennedy from Iowa chalking up 27 1/4 laps.

Syracuse High School won the Novice division with 24 laps completed, followed by Central City High School with 20 laps. In the Standard division, Elkhorn High School completed 30 laps to take first place. Harvard took second with 28 laps finished and Wayne was third with 24 1/4 laps.

In the Exhibition division, Wayne High School was first, completing 22 laps. Central City claimed the award for Best Pit Crew during the rally

Power Drive, an educational program that challenges high school students to design and build one-person electric vehicles during the school year, will have its third competition of the year this Saturday at the Drive Safe Challenge in Grand Island.

Saturday’s competition will be held at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island, located at 3600 Academy Road, west of the Grand Island Airport. Check-in and inspections will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the first heat at 11:30 a.m. followed by the second heat at approximately 12:50 p.m. Awards will be presented at 2 p.m.

Power Drive is co-sponsored by the Nebraska Public Power District and the Omaha Public Power District.

Lakeview, Elkhorn, Harvard top Power Drive field; competition moves to Hastings Motorsports Park

April 7, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – One rally is down and competing high school teams will move to Hastings this Saturday for the second weekend of Power Drive.

The Big Red Invitational, the first of five endurance rally competitions, saw Columbus Lakeview edge out Wayne by a few seconds in the Advanced Class. Bancroft-Rosalie finished third. Elkhorn won the Standard Class with Wayne taking second and Cedar Rapids, IA, Kennedy posting a third place finish. In the Novice Class, Harvard finished first, followed by Syracuse and Central City.

Wayne won the Exhibition Class and Pocahontas from Iowa took second. The competition was held at the Tractor Testing Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

This Saturday’s competition will be staged at the Hastings Motorsports Park beginning at 10 a.m. Awards presentation is scheduled for 1 p.m.

High school teams from Nebraska and neighboring states compete in a series of endurance rallies during April, culminating in the Power Drive Championships the first weekend of May. This annual competition is sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD).

The Power Drive program 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.

OPPD began offering the Power Drive program to high schools in its service territory in 1998. NPPD became a partner in 1999 and began encouraging schools in the central and western parts of the state to participate.

A list of Power Drive participating schools and race results can be found at http://www.oppd.com/AboutUs/PowerDrive/Teams/index.htm.  To keep updated on activities, “like” the Power Drive Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PowerDriveProgram.

Nebraska’s coal generation, transportation generates $4.9 billion new study reports

March 31, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – In Nebraska, the use of coal as a generating resource for electricity, combined with the transportation of coal, collectively generates nearly $4.9 billion in output according to a recent study conducted by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The study found the combined industries also contribute $1.4 billion in labor income, and more than 22,800 jobs for the state.

The study titled “The Economic and Tax Revenue Impact of Coal Industry Activity in Nebraska” was released Monday. The study was prepared for the Nebraska Public Power District on behalf of the state’s coal generation utilities.

“As we discuss the economic development benefits of Nebraska’s energy resources, it is important we acknowledge the financial impact of our traditional resources, too,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Seven communities throughout the state, as well as the numerous towns around them, benefit from thousands of direct and indirect jobs.”

The study’s author, Dr. Eric Thompson, wrote in his report, “Coal is an important commodity in Nebraska. It is used to produce electricity for consumption in Nebraska and for export to purchasers located out of state. Coal transportation is a vibrant part of the economy.”

Thompson’s study found that coal is responsible for almost $4.9 billion annually for the state, and is a significant contribution to annual gross state product in Nebraska. In addition, activity in coal-fired electricity generation and coal transportation industries generate about $142 million in taxes on income, sales and property.

The analysis also examined the local economic impact of coal-generated facilities and transportation, focusing on the North Platte area where NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station is located, along with Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard. The study examined the output of coal-related activity for those two operations, value-added, and labor income, as well as employment.

NPPD sponsored the report to obtain an objective and academic look at the economic impact from its diverse energy generation portfolio which includes coal, nuclear, wind hydroelectric, gas, oil, and methane. A similar study about nuclear generation was done several years ago when NPPD was assessing the value of its nuclear power plant, Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville.

The Bureau of Business Research is a leading source for analysis and information on Nebraska and the Great Plains Economy. The Bureau conducts both contract and sponsored research on the economy of states and communities. The Bureau also competes for research funding from federal government agencies and private foundations from around the nation and contributes to the academic mission of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through scholarly publication and the education of students.

The complete study can be found at the Bureau’s website at http://www.bbr.unl.edu/.

Big Red Invitational jump starts annual Power Drive competition

March 28, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – It may not be staged on the high-speed, banked tracks of NASCAR. And it doesn’t have horsepower of the Indianapolis 500, but for numerous high school teams it is an opportunity to put their work on the racetrack in the 17th annual Power Drive competition that begins a five-week run on April 5.

High school teams from Nebraska and neighboring states are back this spring to compete in a series of endurance rallies, culminating in the Power Drive Championships the first weekend of May. This annual competition is sponsored by the Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Public Power District.

The initial Power Drive competition of the spring begins April 5, with the Big Red Invitational on the East Campus at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Competition begins at 11:30 a.m. and will conclude at 2 p.m. with the awards presentation. Similar competitions will be held in Hastings April 12; in Grand Island April 19 with the Drive Safe Challenge; and April 26 in West Point with the Cumming County Open.

The series will culminate at Werner Park in LaVista where the Power Drive Championships will be held on Saturday, May 2.

The Power Drive program 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.

Through Power Drive, student participants learn:

  • practical application of math and science skills;
  • automotive design, engineering and construction;
  • industrial, electrical and mechanical skills;
  • electric vehicle history and current technology; and
  • teamwork, problem solving and fun.

Elkhorn is the defending champion in the Standard Class followed in 2013 by Columbus Lakeview, Bancroft-Rosalie, Raymond Central, and Beatrice. Wayne was the overall champion in the Advanced Class followed by Elkhorn, Raymond Central, Bancroft-Rosalie, and Cedar Rapids Kennedy from Iowa.

A combination of the competitive endurance rally, 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. In addition to high schools, several Nebraska colleges have developed Power Drive teams that compete in the Exhibition Class. Programs similar to Power Drive are currently operating in 28 states.

The complete 2014 Power Drive Schedule is as follows:

  • Saturday, April 5 – Big Red Invitational, East Campus – University of Nebraska, Lincoln – Competition begins at 11:30 a.m. with awards at 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 12 – Hastings, Motorsports Park, Hastings – Competition begins at 10:00 a.m. with awards at 1:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 19 – 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 26 – Cuming County Open, Cuming County Fairgrounds, West Point. Competition begins at 10 a.m. and awards at 2 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.

A list of Power Drive participating schools can be found at http://www.oppd.com/AboutUs/PowerDrive/Teams/index.htm.  To keep updated on activities, “like” the Power Drive Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PowerDriveProgram.

NPPD encourages customers to prepare for storms

March 27, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Spring has sprung, and one week after entering the new season, Mother Nature reminded several Nebraska towns of her presence.

Nebraska Public Power District customers in the communities of Tekamah, Union, Dubois, Pawnee City, Humboldt, Table Rock, and Burchard all experienced periodic outages yesterday, throughout the evening and into this morning. All communities have restored service, with the exception of Burchard. Restoration is expected later this morning following equipment repairs.

Outages were caused by weather-related events and interruptions to system equipment such as substation breakers. Typical causes can include high winds, trees falling into lines, or lightning strikes.

NPPD works to restore service as promptly as possible and call center service representatives are available day and night. If you have an outage and get your electric bill from NPPD, call (toll free) to 1-877-ASK-NPPD (275-6773). Customers can also follow NPPD on Facebook and Twitter.

NPPD encourages all customers to practice safety during storm season. If you see a downed power line, treat it as energized and call your local utility. Outage safety tips are available on www.nppd.com under the “Power Outages” tab.

Because Nebraska’s electrical grid is interconnected, NPPD works in partnership with its wholesale utility customers when outages to its infrastructure impact their local systems. If your power supplier is a utility other than NPPD, check with your local power provider. To find out who your local power provider is, view the Nebraska Town Index under the “About Us” section on www.nppd.com.

Free GreenSchools workshop offered by NPPD

March 4, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – In a free workshop, Nebraska educators, through the assistance of Nebraska Public Power District, can energize, investigate, and innovate their curriculum by learning more about GreenSchools, a growing national program. GreenSchools is an environmental-focused program for students from kindergarten through the twelfth grade, encouraging students to take personal responsibility for improving the quality of their school, home and community environment.

NPPD, along with ESU’s 1 and 8, is hosting the free workshop on Monday, March 24, and Tuesday, March 25 at its Norfolk Operations Center, 1200 South Chestnut Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration includes lunch, education resources, and field trips. Lodging may also be available, if needed.

Deadline for registration is Wednesday, March 19 and should be done by going to www.esu8.org.

Guest presenters will include professionals from the Nebraska Forest Service, Keep Nebraska Beautiful, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Department of Education, and NPPD.

Workshop attendees will learn about the activities within the GreenSchools program. There are five, student-led investigations designed to be carried out in the school setting, which include elements where students can apply what they are learning in their home. Students are trained to use diagnostic tools to assess energy usage in their school; thus, the school building becomes a learning lab for students. This program helps improve students’ academic performance in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and it assists students in developing critical thinking skills and grow as leaders.

Investigations include:

Energy – how much energy a school uses, the main sources of that energy, and propose ways to implement energy-saving strategies;
Water – source, cost and quality of a school’s water supply and ways to enhance current water conservation practices;
School Site – natural habitats, wildlife, trees, grounds maintenance practices and ways to make improvements to a school site;
Environmental Quality – improvements to indoor air quality, transportation, and chemical use; and
Waste and Recycling – how much waste a school generates and where it goes, as well as ways to recycle, and compost waste.

NPPD supports the program by providing educational resources, teacher professional development, and classroom activities. One of the key components of GreenSchools is an investigative tool kit, which NPPD loans out to schools, containing light and watt meters, an infrared temperature gauge, a CO2 meter, a conservation flow meter bag, and other associated equipment used to conduct the investigations.

School investigations may be done by one class or a team consisting of multiple classes and grade levels. Based upon results from the investigations, schools will develop action plans focused on reducing energy usage at the school, increasing the school’s energy efficiency and improving environmental quality.

To learn more about the GreenSchools program or the Norfolk workshop, visit www.nppd.com/greenschools or contact NPPD Energy Educator Jennifer Swerczek at 402-336-2701 or by e-mail at jlswerc@nppd.com.

Contractor worker found deceased at CNS

February 4, 2014

Brownville, Neb. – Officials with Nebraska Public Power District and the Nemaha County Sherriff’s Department are investigating the death of a contractor radiation protection worker at Cooper Nuclear Station.

Tuesday morning between 7:30 and 8 a.m., plant personnel found a contractor employee deceased in the reactor building at CNS.  The plant’s control room declared a medical emergency with response from plant EMTs. Although no official cause of death has been determined, the death is believed to be a result of natural causes.

CNS has reported the incident to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and OSHA, as required, and called in the Nemaha County Sherriff’s office for further investigation. The contractor company has been contacted, but at this time no name has been released pending notification of next of kin.

NPPD, utility partners roll out new energy efficiency tool

January 27, 2014

Columbus, Neb. – Are you in the market for a new home building project or remodeling and wondering what you should know or learn to get the best value? Start by calling your local electric energy provider. They may have the perfect answer, or at least know of steps you can take, to make your home more energy efficient, durable and healthy.

Recently, Nebraska Public Power District and several other public power entities in Nebraska produced and made available a home technology-related energy efficiency tool. The tool, in the form of a brochure and DVD, details current building science best practices for homeowners (or those in the construction trade) seeking to build new or renovate an existing home.

The DVD and brochure – made possible, in part, by a $12,500.00 DEED (Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments) Grant by the American Public Power Association –contains information enabling the user to learn more about how choices may ultimately affect a home’s longevity, comfort and energy use.

“Homes are typically large energy users,” said Roger Hunt, business partner program consultant with NPPD. “With the help of the new Building Technology tool, customers will be presented with an opportunity to consider various ways to use energy wisely and as efficiently as possible by choosing designs, materials and building practices that result in safe, healthy and durable homes.”

Key to using a tool like this new, building science ‘best practices’ DVD and brochure is that it offers public power customers, as well as those in related home construction trades, to gain insight into the science and modern technology of home building, Hunt said. “If at the end of the day, we’re able to help people build homes that are more energy efficient, longer lasting and healthier, then I’d say, ‘It’s been a pretty good day,’” he concluded.

For more information about the new Building Technology tool, contact your local electric power provider or go to www.nppd.com/buildingtechnology where copies of the brochure and video can be requested.

Others who assisted in the making of this new energy efficiency tool included Polk County Rural Public Power District, Loup Public Power District, Southern Power District, Dawson Public Power District, Lincoln Electric System, Omaha Public Power District and the Nebraska Energy Office.

NPPD to host open house on proposed power line

January 21, 2014

Fullerton, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District will host an open house in Fullerton today to provide information about potential line routes for a 115,000-volt transmission line NPPD is proposing to build in the area.

The open house will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Loup River Inn. It will provide the public, especially landowners whose property may lie within close proximity to the designated alternative line routes, an opportunity to comment and share information with NPPD.

The public is invited to attend the open house at its convenience. It is estimated the average time needed to go through the open house is approximately 20 to 30 minutes, but it is up to the individual how much time he or she wishes to spend.

The proposed electric transmission line will run about 16 miles, generally north and south, across portions of Polk, Merrick and Nance counties. The line will be built between a substation to be constructed south of the Platte River near Clarks and a new Cornhusker Public Power District substation needed to serve a TransCanada crude oil pumping station southeast of Fullerton.

NPPD’s goal in siting a transmission line is to minimize the line’s impact on the general public, property owners, the environment, cultural sites and NPPD customers. Through public involvement, aerial and on-the-ground studies, NPPD and its consultants have identified several alternative line routes for the new line, including a preferred line route, taking into account approximately several dozen factors.

“NPPD relies on an open and comprehensive line-routing process,” said NPPD’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent. “We work hard to include the public, especially those property owners and other potentially affected stakeholders, every step of the way. Typically, we steadily narrow the number of options we consider, until we arrive at what we believe, at this time, to be a ‘preferred’ line route.”

This will be the second open house for this project. The first open house, held last October, identified a general study area. Since then, NPPD and its consultants have narrowed or refined the line-routing selection.

The public involvement component of NPPD’s line routing process can include, depending upon circumstances, any number of combinations of open houses, face-to-face meeting with landowners and community officials, and if appropriate, a public hearing.

Agreements with TransCanada ensure all costs incurred by NPPD related to this project will be paid for by TransCanada, even if the pipeline does not get built. TransCanada is awaiting a permit from the U.S. State Department before it can cross the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada.