Q&As

What is an Integrated Resource Plan?

NPPD uses a mix of fuel resources, including renewables, nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas to generate electric power. Included in this mix are purchases of hydropower from the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which is a Federal marketing and transmission agency of the Department of Energy.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 requires all WAPA customers to submit an IRP every five years.

An IRP is a planning process that evaluates the full range of alternatives, including new generating capacity, power purchases, energy conservation and efficiency, co-generation and district heating and cooling applications, and renewable energy resources. The goal is to ensure utilities associated with WAPA provide adequate, reliable, and cost effective service to its electric consumers.

The IRP also addresses contributing factors that impact electricity supply and delivery, including:

  • government regulations and expectations at both federal and state levels,
  • physical assets such as transmission lines or power plants,
  • customer demand, and
  • other drivers.

Why is NPPD developing a five-year plan instead of a 20-year plan, as we have in the past?

There are several reasons for looking at the next five years:

  • NPPD’s existing resources are sufficient to meet the electrical demand by its customers.
    NPPD currently does not require new resources to be built in the short term.
  • The planning horizon for new generation resources has become relatively short.
    Natural gas peaking units, combined cycle facilities, and renewables have become the units of choice in today’s industry, and have relatively short lead times for construction, provided that transmission is available.
  • The U.S. electric industry is ever changing.
    In the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) footprint, a significant amount of renewables have been added, and proposed renewable projects would add more than three times today’s amount.
  • The environmental regulatory landscape has changed with the new administration.
    It is not presently known what degree of change or how administrations will adjust in the future.
  • In 2016, NPPD signed new wholesale power contracts with its customers.
    These 20-year contracts allow them to develop 10 percent or 2 megawatts of their own generation with renewables. This means more renewable energy is utilized throughout the state and decreases the urgency for NPPD to build more generation.

Does WAPA allow five year plans?

WAPA does not explicitly state the minimum time period for an IRP analysis, but it should at least cover the period of time between IRP reports and WAPA requires an update to the IRP every five (5) years. NPPD’s next report would be in 2023.

What has changed in NPPD’s generation since the last IRP was issued?

Since our last IRP in 2013:

  • NPPD’s wholesale customers can add additional renewables under the new contract. Wholesale customers are expected to add, or already have added, approximately 35 megawatts of renewable energy.
  • Three NPPD Retail communities have installed solar generation and more continue to approach NPPD about the development of their own community solar programs.
  • A new, efficient high pressure turbine was installed at Cooper Nuclear Station, adding five megawatts of additional, carbon-free capacity. Plans for an extended power uprate did not move forward due to the costs.
  • NPPD has added two additional wind facilities to its mix for 94 more megawatts of renewable energy.
  • NPPD has gained 65 megawatts of generation, following the release of the Lincoln Electric System at the end of 2017 from its contract to purchase energy from Sheldon Station.
  • Through NPPD’s Energy WiseSM energy efficiency program, customers have saved 200,000 megawatt hours of electricity.
  • The Southwest Power Pool, of which NPPD is a member, implemented an Integrated Market Place in 2014. This market expansion coordinated next-day generation across its footprint to maximize cost-effectiveness.
  • Environmental regulations, contemplated in the 2013 IRP, did not require NPPD to install major controls in order to comply, other than installing low nitrogen oxide (NOx) burners and activated carbon injection for mercury control at Gerald Gentleman Station, or over-fire air and coal additives for mercury control at Sheldon Station.

What does the 2018 IRP process look like?

NPPD began its initial IRP assessment during the first half of 2017 by reviewing the results of the 2013 IRP. NPPD looked at its existing system and committed resources, compared those resources to load forecasts for the future, and began developing an action plan for the future.

In this process we talk with our wholesale customers, approximately 70 municipalities, public power districts and rural cooperatives throughout the state. We work with them to assess load, customer needs, generation options, and their interest in installing qualifying local generation. We also meet and communicate with leaders and customers in our 80 retail communities and take their feedback about how they believe their communities and customers will use energy. We conduct an appliance survey which also gives us insights into how customers are using energy. And finally, we assess our current plant operations, generation strategies and performance, and what future technologies will shape how and when Nebraska uses electricity in the future.

Once we have thoroughly assessed our “current state” and evaluated what load changes, regulatory environment, and operational demands we may encounter in the future, we develop a report and share it with our customers as to how we expect to meet their energy needs for at least the next five years.

NPPD seeks comment on its 2018 IRP from our Nebraska customers. Stakeholders are encouraged to thoroughly read the Draft 2018 IRP and then provide comment through the survey provided on this site. The comments received will be shared with NPPD’s Board of Directors and executives and summarized in the final IRP.

Is public comment encouraged?

Yes. Public involvement and comment has been a cornerstone of public power and NPPD in such endeavors including past Integrated Resource Plans (IRP), transmission line projects, relicensing of Cooper Nuclear Station, and through a series of generation options analysis open houses that were held prior to the 2013 IRP being issued. We want the public to review the draft IRP and provide comment that will be added to the final report.

To help communicate the opportunity for comment on the 2018 IRP, NPPD is utilizing the monthly board of director meetings, customer meetings, website, news media, public presentations, and social media. We will also be advertising in weekly and daily newspapers and issuing news releases.

Comments collected from the survey will be summarized in the final IRP which is expected to be submitted to WAPA during the first half of 2018.