News Releases

3/20/2020
Scam bill payment calls growing during COVID-19 outbreak; NPPD offers recommendations to thwart fraudulent attempts

Columbus, Neb. – With Nebraskans dealing with challenging times due to the COVID-19 outbreak, phone scammers are still on the prowl according to Nebraska Public Power District.

NPPD reported a growing number of scam calls being reported by customers Thursday night.

“Unfortunately, this is the type of scam that impacts many of our customers periodically and are coming at a time that is difficult for our customers,.” said NPPD Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “Anyone who receives such a call should not let their guard down and should contact our team and law enforcement immediately. Protecting our customers is a top priority, especially during these difficult times for all.”

These predatory individuals state the bill must be paid immediately or the power will be shut off and will recommend several methods of payment. Sometimes the scammer’s caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.

To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following tips and suggestions:

  • NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number.
  • NPPD does not demand payment with a pre-paid card.
  • Any customer receiving such a call should not attempt to make payment over the phone using a credit or debit card.
  • Write down the call back number or consider asking where the caller is located.
  • Contact law enforcement.
  • Let NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) know about the call.
  • If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment.

For more information concerning scam calls, view https://www.nppd.com/accounts-billing/scams.

3/19/2020
NPPD launches new app and notification system for retail customers

Columbus, Neb. - Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) retail customers now have access to a new mobile app and web portal to pay bills and report outages, in addition to a new email notification system that will update them on outages to their service.

NPPD’s previous app, which launched in 2015, was removed from mobile app stores in February 2020, in preparation for the launch of the new app in March. The new app offers more in-depth features including online bill pay, access to outage information and high energy usage notifications.  

“At a time when social distancing is so important, the new NPPD mobile app and web portal will provide a lot of convenient features for our retail customers from the comfort and safety of their homes,” says NPPD Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “In addition, we think this new app will give our customers the best ability to control and monitor their energy usage year-round.”

Anyone currently using the old web portal will need to re-register on the new system, through either the new web portal or new mobile app. Both offer the same features, so customers can use whichever option they prefer. The old customer web portal will no longer accept payments, and outages can no longer be reported through the old app. If a customer is signed up for automatic payments, their payments will continue uninterrupted.

Additionally, residential retail customers will now receive email notifications if a planned or unplanned power outage occurs to their service as long as NPPD has their email on file. Customers will receive these notifications whether they use the new app and portal or not. This is a change from the old system, where all customers would receive a phone call if a planned outage was scheduled to occur. Phone calls will still be placed to residential customers with critical needs and non-residential customers.

“The change in our notification system is another advancement that has taken place as technology improves and people have more access to mobile and non-mobile devices that can receive emails,” noted Arlt. “This new system will allow us to get information to the end-use customer in a very timely fashion, whenever an outage occurs to their service.”

The new web portal can be accessed at https://onlineaccount.nppd.com/Portal/ and the app can be found on both the iOS and Android app stores by searching NPPD or Nebraska Public Power District. Customers with additional questions about the new app or email notification systems can contact NPPD’s Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (1-877-275-6773).

3/17/2020
NPPD suspends “walk-in traffic” at customer service centers

Columbus, Neb. - Due to the COVID-19 outbreak Nebraska Public Power District is suspending all “walk-in traffic” at its service centers around the state beginning Wednesday, March 18 until further notice. This decision by the District is based on guidance from state and federal agencies and is in the best interest of the safety and health of NPPD customers and employees.

Service centers in Aurora, Chadron, Kearney, Norfolk, McCook, Ogallala, O’Neill, Plattsmouth, Scottsbluff and York are affected.

NPPD provides a critical service to the state and the District wants to limit undue exposure to its employees and customers as much as possible. The transmission and distribution operations at each of the service centers will remain in operation to ensure reliable electric service throughout the state.

NPPD offers several, convenient ways to pay a bill and manage an account without visiting a public office.  Please visit www.nppd.com for available payment options and to manage accounts online with NPPD On The Go!.  

NPPD representatives are also available via phone for questions, payment arrangements, billing and account information, or if needing to keep electric service intact, by calling  877-275-6773 (877-ASK- NPPD) Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.  Outage reporting is available 24 x 7 via phone and online with NPPD On the Go!

Information on the status of the service centers and other information related to NPPD can be found on Nebraska Public Power District’s Facebook and Twitter account (@NPPDNews).

3/16/2020
Outage planned for Melbeta, Minatare and surrounding area to complete substation work

Columbus, Neb. - Construction work on a new substation that will serve Nebraska Public Power District customers in Minatare, Melbeta and the surrounding rural area, will cause an outage for those customers on Wednesday, March 18 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mountain time.

NPPD Distribution Superintendent Dennis Wademan says the outage is needed so that crews can safely install new sub-transmission poles that will support the new substation.

“We want to keep the outage time to a minimum because we know it is inconvenient for people no matter what day or time it takes place,” noted Wademan. “But the outage will have to occur so we can complete the required work in a safe manner. This new substation will help us to continue providing reliable energy service to these two communities and the surrounding rural area moving into the future.”  The reason for the timespan of the outage is due to prep-work for the construction that can only be completed while the outage is occurring.

“Our crews will be working as efficiently and safely as they possibly can so the impact on the customer is as short as possible,” added Wademan. “Safely generating and delivering reliable energy is our mission at NPPD, and we are very appreciative of our customers understanding while we complete this work.”

NPPD is contacting all customers who are being affected by the outage, both residential and commercial, to help make the transition through the outage as smooth as possible.

3/12/2020
Tom Kent named new NPPD President, CEO

Columbus, Neb. – Current Nebraska Public Power District Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Kent was officially named as President and Chief Executive Officer of the utility, following approval by the Board of Directors Thursday.

A native of Tilden, Neb., Kent has been with the utility for 30 years, including the last nine years in his current position. He replaces Pat Pope who announced in February he was stepping down from his position at the end of April and will focus on e-connectivity and future generation strategies for NPPD as a special assistant to the CEO.

“It’s an honor to be selected by the Board to serve as the next CEO of NPPD. I have been very fortunate over my career to work in many parts of the District, and I have experienced first-hand the talent and dedication of my teammates across the state to providing low-cost, highly reliable energy and outstanding service to our customers,” Kent remarked after the Board’s decision.

“The strength of public power is our direct accountability to our customers through a publicly elected Board of Directors. NPPD, under the guidance of our Board, CEO Pope, and previous CEOs, has delivered outstanding results for our fellow Nebraskans for 50 years. I look forward to leading this talented team as we continue to transform our organization to meet the changing needs of our customers for the next 50 years and beyond.

“As board members, we have had the opportunity to observe Tom’s knowledge, leadership and integrity and the Board’s executive committee felt strongly that he is the right person to succeed Pat Pope,” commented NPPD Board Chair Barry DeKay. “We believe it is important to develop leadership internally so that we have potential successors who know our organization, our culture, our customers and our employees. Tom brought us these attributes.’

During the past nine years Kent has provided executive leadership over NPPD’s non-nuclear operations and has overseen more than $700 million of new investment in NPPD’s transmission system. He also serves as the District’s Chief Electric Reliability Compliance Officer accountable for compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation reliability and cyber-security standards.

A key effort during his recent tenure was leading a negotiating team responsible for attracting Monolith Materials to Nebraska. That operation will become the largest electrical load in the state when fully operational and will provide an opportunity for NPPD to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 10% by using hydrogen produced in Monolith’s manufacturing process as a fuel for generating electricity.

“The move by Monolith Materials to Nebraska is certainly an economic driver for the state,” Kent commented, noting that the first unit of that facility is nearing completion and will soon be in operation. “Our next step in this process is to complete the design and engineering of the conversion at Sheldon Station and eventually begin operations where hydrogen is used as a fuel in generating electricity and replacing coal.”

Prior to his recent position, Kent was the Transmission and Distribution Manager and also the Corporate Planning and Risk Manager. He has held numerous positions across the District in Columbus, Scottsbluff, Ogallala and at Cooper Nuclear Station. Kent is a veteran of the US Navy having served as an instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power School. He is also a graduate of the Reactor Technology Course for Utility Executives through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He is a registered professional electrical engineer in the State of Nebraska and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He recently chaired the Southwest Power Pool’s Holistic Integrated Tariff Team and serves on the Members Committee and Human Resources Committee. He currently is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Midwest Reliability Organization and serves on the Board of Directors of RMEL, an energy trade association.

Away from the industry, Kent is an active volunteer with the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he was awarded the Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service to youth and serves on the Council Board of Directors.

He and his wife, Dacia, reside in Columbus.

2/27/2020
City of Mitchell, NPPD agree on system operation agreement

Mitchell, Neb. – With an affirmative vote earlier this month by its city council, the City of Mitchell has entered into a contract with Nebraska Public Power District for an electric system operation agreement for the community. NPPD will be responsible for maintaining the community’s electric system, for a period of five years as a final contract was signed this past week.

There will be little change that Mitchell residents and businesses will see other than NPPD’s orange-bumpered trucks doing future maintenance on the city-owned electric distribution system.  Crews based out of NPPD’s Scottsbluff Operations Center that also serve numerous Panhandle communities will be responsible for the maintenance of the system. There will be no change in the monthly electric billing from the city or process for reporting an outage or service problem.

Mitchell City Manager Perry Mader noted that the move to utilizing NPPD’s local crews was due to the difficulty in hiring lineman and the difficulty keeping that line item in the city budget. “Business in Mitchell with the electric grid will not change,” Mader said previously. “We will still own and operate our own electric grid. NPPD will be handling the maintenance we need with their crews out of Scottsbluff.”

The agreement calls for NPPD to begin providing maintenance in Mitchell that will be fully in effect by June 1, 2020.  The District’s presence will be seen in the community over the next several weeks reviewing the local system to become familiar with what already exists and will be working with the city on any maintenance issues and improvements in the future. NPPD has similar agreements, called Electric System Operation Agreements with several communities, including Lexington and South Sioux City.

“We have a professional and highly-trained crew of journey linemen that handle the distributions lines in Scottsbluff and other local communities,” said NPPD’s Scottsbluff Superintendent Dennis Wademan. “Our crews respond as soon as possible to power outages in those communities and we typically have outages remedied within a short period of time. We plan to carry out the same level of service to the Mitchell community as we do in other communities we serve.”

Mader encourages Mitchell citizens to contact city hall prior to June 1, 2020, to update personal contact information to ensure that the city has the most current data in their system before the call answering portion of the agreement is final.

For the time being, any power outages reported after normal business hours or weekends remains the same. If there is a loss of power contact the Mitchell City Hall with calls that will be answered by the Scotts Bluff County Communications Center until NPPD has completed testing with the city and confirmed the call answering services are in place. Full implementation is expected to take up to 90 days from March 1, 2020.

2/25/2020
NPPD cutting ribbon on new community solar facility

Columbus, Neb. – The time has come to celebrate the launch of a new community solar farm with the official ribbon cutting for the Scottsbluff II project.

The new addition to the Scottsbluff community’s renewable energy portfolio is set to go live on March 1, with the ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. March 2. “We are very excited to cut the ribbon and celebrate the official launch of Scottsbluff II,” says Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “The Scottsbluff II project is a great partnership between the city of Scottsbluff – NPPD and N-Solar and these combined efforts are what made this project a reality.”

Speakers at Monday’s ribbon cutting will include Scottsbluff Mayor Raymond Gonzales, City Manager Nathan Johnson, representatives from N-Solar and NPPD subdivision 5 Board Director and Scottsbluff resident Charlie Kennedy. The ceremony is set to take place in the Landers Memorial Soccer Complex parking lot at 4205 5th Avenue just outside the new solar facility.

NPPD worked with N-Solar, who was brought on as the developer for the 4.375-megawatt solar project. A project that is expected to provide $2 to $2.5 million in energy cost savings to the City of Scottsbluff over a 25-year agreement period with the capability to generate the same amount of energy needed to power approximately 665 homes when operating at full capacity.

In the event of inclement weather, the ribbon cutting will be rescheduled.

For more information on the NPPD Community Solar program, check out nppd.com/sunwise.

2/25/2020
State Open Championship to be hosted in Columbus

Columbus, Neb. – The regular season of CREATE Open Robotics competitions is coming to an end and teams are preparing to take their talents to the Nebraska Open State Championship in Columbus, Feb. 29.

Robotics teams have been working all season to perfect their robots and improve them for the challenges they are tasked with during the CREATE Open Tournaments Powered by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD).  During these tournaments the teams are randomly paired up with teams from other communities and are given a set of challenges that they must work together to complete to earn points.

“Competitive robotics introduces students to technical workforce skills, problem solving, teamwork, and innovation,” says Senior Energy Education Specialist Chad Johnson. “This tournament will give Nebraska teams a chance to show off those skills on a big stage and compete against the most talented students from around the state.” NPPD sponsors the Open division tournaments because of the focus on innovation and technical workforce skills including electrical engineering.

There are approximately 33 teams participating from 10 different communities including Axtell High School, Omaha North Magnet High School, Hampton High School, Holdrege Public Schools, St. Paul High School, Nebraska Christian High School, Columbus High School, Heartland Community High School, Hampton High School, Cross County Schools, Millard West High School, Lakeview High School and Aurora YETI-botics.

“These students build some amazing robots, and in addition to learning technical skills, the students learn about leadership, communication and sportsmanship – all of which are demonstrated by NPPD employees on a day-to-day basis,” noted NPPD Careers Outreach Specialist Kim Liebig.

For those who would like to check out the tournament but are unable to make the trip to Columbus Lakeview High School, their will be a student broadcast watchable online at https://striv.tv/channel/lakeview/.

Following the Nebraska Open State Championship, teams will be preparing to participate in the U.S. Open Championship which is scheduled to start April 2 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

2/17/2020
NPPD process ensures customer safety, grid reliability before starting a renewable energy project

Columbus, Neb. – Interest in building renewable energy resources, specifically solar generation and battery storage, continues to grow in Nebraska, and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to make sure customers are aware of steps that need to be taken before beginning construction on such projects.

These renewable resources are referred to as renewable distributed generation (DG) and they must be connected to a public electric system. NPPD encourages customers interested in adding DG to their home or business, to start by reaching out to their local public power utility to see if the project is viable and to evaluate projected savings.

NPPD has developed a process to ensure it can appropriately maintain the reliability of its electric system and public safety during installation and operation of renewable DG projects. Electric consumers, developers and contractors investing in a project are required to utilize this process, which begins with a form called the “Interconnection Application for NPPD Approval to Connect Distributed or Local Generation.”

This form allows end-use customers to submit formal notification to NPPD regarding their proposed project. Under the process, NPPD maintains the right to approve or deny any DG project that affects the electric system, including DG projects developed prior to these procedures.

“NPPD looks forward to actively partnering with all interested in undertaking a renewable DG project in a way that greatly minimizes impacts to our grid and community members,” said NPPD Senior Project Coordinator Tom Pillen. “NPPD also wants end-use customers to make an educated choice about their solar project.”

NPPD recommends using its customer-owned solar calculator to estimate potential savings and compare options when considering a solar project.

In turn, NPPD has also implemented and continues to explore opportunities for several community solar projects in retail communities throughout Nebraska. These projects avoid the up-front costs of customer-owned solar while still giving customers the chance to participate in renewable energy.

NPPD.com has a variety of resources available to help you make a sound decision on any DG project. The DG generation form and related details, as well as the solar calculator, a solar project contractor checklist, educational videos, current incentives and loans, and more, are available on nppd.com/powering-nebraska/solar.

2/13/2020
Pat Pope stepping down as NPPD President, CEO

Columbus, Neb. – With a career of more than 40 years with Nebraska Public Power District, including the past nine as President and Chief Executive Officer, Pat Pope announced during Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting he plans to step down as President and CEO.

He expects to remain available to assist with transition and continue working on the District’s generation options for the future and rural e-connectivity initiatives.

In making the announcement to the Board Pope said, “I didn’t know how long I would stay with NPPD when I began working here.  As the years went by. the opportunities kept coming. I stayed with the District and learned to appreciate what public power really means to our customers and the state.” He acknowledged that 20 years into his 40 year journey he was fortunate enough to be promoted to Vice President, and the electric industry began to deregulate and decarbonization became an issue. His tenure as President and CEO is the second longest in the 50 year history of NPPD, with Durwood ‘Woody’ Hill serving 12 years from 1970 to 1982.

“It has been a pleasure working with Pat and I wish him and his wife Jackie the best in the coming years,” said Board Chair Barry DeKay. “Some may be surprised with this announcement but Pat has been talking to the executive committee of the Board for the past few months to ensure a smooth leadership transition.”

DeKay explained that as a result of those conversations, Tom Kent, currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer has been in discussions with the executive committee of the Board to replace Pope.  It is expected that the executive committee of the Board will recommend hiring Kent at  the March Board of Directors meeting.

“Today the District enjoys a strong financial position, wholesale and retail rates are stable and very competitive, and our operations are running well,” he commented.  In looking at key developments in recent years under his leadership he pointed out that retail rates have remained stable going into a seventh consecutive year and wholesale rates for the past three years, Cooper Nuclear Station has earned excellence ratings from the Institute of Nuclear Plant Operators two of the past three evaluation cycles, a conversion project to burn hydrogen rather than coal as a fuel at Sheldon Station is currently in the design phase, and Gerald Gentleman Station continues to be one of the most cost effective power plants in the country. Additionally, NPPD’s carbon free energy mix for Nebraska customers has averaged roughly 60 percent over the past five years, reaching 68 percent in 2019.

“And while I know the future will be different, a solid foundation has been laid to help ensure the District’s ongoing success,” he added  “After nine years as president and chief executive officer, now seems like a good time for me move on to the next chapter in my life. Tomorrow is promised to no one, and Jackie and I have lots bucket list items to begin checking off.”

“I want to thank the Board and the entire NPPD team for giving me one of the best experiences an old Nebraska farm boy could have hoped for. NPPD is a great organization made up of wonderful people and I have no doubt it will serve the residents of Nebraska well for many years to come.”

Pope graduated  from the University of Nebraska in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and earned a master’s degree in Business Administration in 1995. He joined NPPD in December 1979 as an Electrical Engineer and has also held the positions of Distribution Planning Engineer, District Operations Superintendent, Regional Operations Superintendent, Regional Manager, Energy Control Center Manager and Vice President of Transmission Services.

He was appointed Vice President of Energy Delivery in October of 2003 followed in November of 2004 being named Vice President of Energy Supply. In January of 2008 he was appointed Vice President & Chief Operating Officer and in April of 2011 he was appointed President & CEO.

2/3/2020
Drone work to be completed in northeast Nebraska

Columbus, Neb. – Residents in northeast Nebraska may be seeing some drones flying around, as inspection work begins on a Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) transmission line that extends from north of Norfolk, through Pierce County and into Antelope County.

Work is scheduled to begin Feb. 10, when drones will be used to take photos of structures along the high-powered transmission line. The photos are being taken so that NPPD can assess any maintenance work that may need to be completed along the line.

NPPD’s contractor, Valmont Utility, a business segment of Valmont Industries, Inc., will be conducting the drone work over a period of approximately five weeks and will be utilizing up to two drones simultaneously.  

“We recently conducted similar work on a transmission line in Filmore County, and as we begin drone work in Madison, Pierce and Antelope counties, we want people to be aware of what’s going on,” says NPPD T&D Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz. “The drones will be flying along our transmission lines and will only be operating during daytime hours.”

The drones will not be operating until at least 30 minutes after sunrise and will finish operating at least 30 minutes before sunset.

“Valmont partners with our key utility customers to understand the conditions of the assets required for grid reliability,” says Angi Chamberlain, Director of Quality for Valmont Utility. “The use of drones, or UAS, to survey and monitor the conditions of existing utility infrastructure allows a minimally invasive method to quickly ensure assets are in compliance with the original specifications and will maintain structural integrity over their lifetime. This is the most effective way to monitor the reliability of these critical assets,” adds Chamberlain.

**********************************************

About Valmont Utility

Valmont® Utility is a global leader developing structures that enable electric power to be transferred from the generation source—power generation facility or renewable source such as a solar and wind production—to the end power consumer. As an industry-leading provider of transmission and distribution poles, transmission towers, substation components and renewable energy generation equipment, and a global manufacturing network, Valmont Utility excels in supply chain logistics in service, performance and delivery. For more information, visit valmontutility.com.

About Valmont Industries, Inc.

Valmont® is a global leader, designing and manufacturing engineered products that support global infrastructure development and agricultural productivity. Its products for infrastructure serve highway, transportation, wireless communication, electric transmission, and industrial construction and energy markets. Its irrigation equipment and services for large-scale agriculture improve farm productivity while conserving fresh water resources. In addition, Valmont provides coatings services that protect against corrosion and improve the service life of steel and other metal products. For more information, visit valmont.com.

1/24/2020
Scottsbluff II Solar shares selling fast

Columbus, Neb. – Shares for the Scottsbluff II Solar project are selling fast, with the project coming close to selling out its available shares.

Shares for the 4.375-megawatt solar farm opened for registration on Jan. 2, 2020. In just under a month, over 90 percent of the Scottsbluff II shares have already been purchased. A small percentage of the residents who have reserved shares still need to confirm that they intend to keep their shares but following their confirmation only a small number of shares remain.

“Businesses and residents were initially capped at how many shares they could purchase,” says NPPD Vice-President and General Manager of Retail Tim Arlt. “Our goal is to provide everyone an opportunity to participate in the community solar program if they choose too, so as we get closer to selling out the shares, we want to make sure residents are aware of the opportunity to participate.”

The first community solar project, located near NPPD’s Scottsbluff facility, was well received and sold out immediately before going online in 2017.

Customers who purchased shares from the first community solar project paid a higher premium to participate, something that will change moving forward. As the second solar project comes online, customers who have purchased shares from both the first and second project will see a credit on their bill. The solar share prices will be blended together resulting in a production cost savings to all solar program participants.

“It’s also important to reiterate that the community solar projects are not subsidized in any way,” notes Arlt. “If a community chooses not to participate in a community solar project, they will not pay any costs associated with the projects established in other communities. Through work with our partner communities, NPPD has established clear guidelines that prohibit cost shifts or subsidies.”

To find out more information or to request shares for the Scottsbluff Community Solar project, go to https://sunwise.nppd.com.

1/23/2020
2020 Aurora Open & Innovation Showcase to be aired Live

Aurora, Neb. – The 2020 Aurora Open & Innovation Showcase is set to be the biggest in the event’s history and will be the first ever CREATE Open robotics competition in Nebraska televised statewide.

Outside of the US Open Championship, for robotics, this will be the largest and most unique CREATE Open Powered by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) event of the year. The robotics competition is taking place on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Hamilton County Fairground in Aurora, beginning at 8 a.m.

The competition will be broadcast live from 1 to 5 p.m. on News Channel Nebraska (NCN) on local airwaves across the state. “Our future as a State in the knowledge economy depends on our ability to train a tech capable workforce. NPPD understands the value in STEM education and News Channel Nebraska wants to showcase this one-of-a-kind student competition,” noted NCN founder and owner Mike Flood. “If you worry about our future, watch this programming to find out how Nebraska farm kids solve problems that middle age folks have a hard time understanding.”

The robotics teams will be randomly paired with teams from other communities, to complete tasks and earn points.  “These students build some amazing robots, and in addition to learning technical skills, the students learn about leadership, communication, and sportsmanship –– all of which are demonstrated by NPPD employees on a day-to-day basis,” noted NPPD Careers Outreach Specialist Kim Liebig. “And the chance for this to be aired on live TV for others to experience is really exciting.”

The Aurora Open will engage nearly 80 community volunteers and 50 robotics teams from Omaha North Magnet High School, Norfolk Junior High School, York Middle School, Columbus High School, Chase County High School, Axtell High School, Holdrege Schools, Gothenburg Secondary School, St. Paul Public Schools, Nebraska Christian Schools, St. Edward High School, Brownell Talbot Schools, Hampton High School, Heartland Community High School, Cross County High School, Millard West High School, Lakeview High School, Central Community College – Columbus, Waverly High School and YETIbotics in Aurora.

In addition to the robotics competition, 10 innovation teams will be competing in an innovation showcase. As a part of the innovation showcase, two businesses from across Nebraska will be paired with a student team. The student team will then be tasked with building a product that can help meet the needs of both businesses. High school students, as well as students from Central Community College, the University of Nebraska Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will be participating.

NPPD Senior Career Education Specialist Chad Johnson says, “The products made by the student teams will be judged, and the top ranked teams will present their product to a panel of Nebraska business representatives.” Students will utilize NPPD’s STEM Connections Lab and other resources to build their products. “This event is designed to encourage community involvement, engage future employers and inspire business-to-business relationships,” added Johnson.

1/21/2020
Electrocution incident reminds of importance of safety around power lines

Columbus, Neb. – A recent incident that resulted in a Kearney resident getting electrocuted was fortunately not fatal but reminds every one of the importance of safety around power lines.

The incident occurred over the weekend when the resident attempted to work on or near a power pole and suffered injuries from electrocution after getting too close to the power lines.

“The safety of our teammates and our customers is our highest priority. We cannot stress enough that the general public needs to stay away from power lines and stay off any associated equipment in order to avoid injury,” says Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Director of Delivery Art Wiese. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the resident who was injured, and we hope injuries like this can be avoided in the future.”

NPPD wants to use this opportunity to remind people that it is important to be safety minded when working around power lines. Minimum clearance distances (meaning how close you, or anything you are touching, should come to a utility-owned power line), is 10 feet, and goes up to 20 feet at the higher voltages in NPPD’s system.  In addition, if you come across a downed power line it is important to stay clear of the area and notify your local public power district immediately so that they can deenergize the line.

“Winter storms can cause power lines to get knocked down, and it is just as important for the general public to be aware of the danger of these situations as it is for those who are working around power lines,” noted Wiese. “If you come across a powerline that looks like it has been damaged, stay away from the area and call the power district as soon as you can. It is critical to let trained professionals handle the situation and avoid severe, and potentially fatal, injuries.”

NPPD encourages the public to be aware in storm conditions this winter and review numerous safety tips on its website at https://www.nppd.com/outages-safety/electrical-safety. NPPD customers can call 1-877-ASK-NPPD or go to NPPD.com to report an outage or damaged power line.

1/20/2020
Western Nebraska communities set for meter replacements

Columbus, Neb. - Upgrading electric meters at residences and businesses will begin Monday, Jan. 27 for a number of communities in western Nebraska. Nebraska Public Power District crews will initially be replacing meters in Broadwater, Lisco, Oshkosh, Lewellen, Brandon, Venango, Madrid and Elsie to start the project. Once those eight communities have their meters replaced, work will start in Brule, Big Springs, Sutherland and Ogallala.

In 2020 approximately 24,000 meters in retail communities served by NPPD will be replaced, as part of a three-year project by NPPD. There is no charge to the customer for the meter or the installation. NPPD has replaced approximately 67,000 meters the past two years.

Prior to installation, the District’s customer service organization will contact retail customers (those who receive a bill from NPPD) in those communities via phone to alert them to the installation of the meters. A District employee will switch out the meter at the residence or business and will remove the old one from the premises. A resident or business owner does not need to be there when the switch out occurs and there will be a brief interruption of electric service.

The new meters are equipped with two-way communication known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a digital metering technology used around the world for more than a decade and will include the latest technology in this type of equipment. The new meters display the reading in a digital LCD format. The meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed that will receive and securely transmit the data back to NPPD on the total amount of kilowatt hours used by a residence, business or industry.

“The installation of the AMI system helps maintain competitive electric rates for our customers by reducing operating expenses,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt, who noted that NPPD’s retail customers have not had a rate increase over the past six years. “With AMI equipment we can also pinpoint the exact location of outages quicker, meaning a faster response time in restoring power.”

The new AMI meters will continue to be key in providing reliable electric service for its customers and provide an additional level of safety for NPPD employees when troubleshooting or handling routine maintenance. The new AMI equipment cannot control any appliances or electronics within a residence or business.

In addition to the new meters, NPPD will also have numerous routers placed strategically in the community to relay the information to NPPD’s operations.

Individuals having questions on the meters and the installation should contact NPPD at 877-275-6773 and speak with a customer care representative.

1/17/2020
New emergency app now available for Cooper Nuclear Station

Brownville, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District has something that every cell phone user in the area around Cooper Nuclear Station needs when it comes to emergency information.

NPPD now has an app available for emergency planning information for Cooper Nuclear Station that can be downloaded to an IPhone or Android device. This information has been issued in a printed version in the past with the app now taking its place along with information posted on the NPPD website.

“Information that has been available through the printed calendars is now readily available in an app that the public will have at their fingertips,” said CNS Emergency Preparedness Manager Larry Mocnik. “There is also a link to NPPD’s Twitter account, plus individuals can sign up for emergency notifications through Nemaha County in Nebraska and Atchison County in Missouri that would include weather conditions.”

The new app provides information on all four of the emergency classification levels in the event of an actual emergency, plus provides a listing of various radio and television stations that could be tuned in to listen for any specific instructions.  An informative section on shelter in place and what to do in an evacuation is available, including evacuation routes and locations of designated reception centers.

A complete download is available of emergency information that was used in the calendars in the past.

“While we make this information available, our goal at the plant is that we will operate safely for employees and the public in the future,” Mocnik added. “We understand that some people may not have a cell phone so we can still  provide those individuals with printed information.”  An individual can call 402-825-3811 to obtain a copy of the information or request a NOAA/EAS radio.

The “NPPD Emergency Planning” app is available through the Apple and Android stores at no cost. The same information can be downloaded at https://nppd.com/ep.

1/15/2020
Scammers use new meter installations as a chance to target customers

Columbus, Neb. – As Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) works to install new, upgraded digital meters around the state, scammers are trying to take advantage of customers by threatening them with shutting off their power.

NPPD received several reports Wednesday of scammers calling both NPPD customers and customers of other public power districts across the state to try and extort money. The scammers pose as an NPPD representative and tell the customers they will shut off their power if they do not pay hundreds of dollars for their “new” meter.

“NPPD is currently in the process of installing digital meters in several communities across the state, and there is no charge to the customer when this work is done,” says NPPD Vice-President and General Manager of Retail Tim Arlt. “Anyone who receives such a call should not let their guard down and should contact our team and law enforcement immediately. Protecting our customers is a top priority.”

NPPD is currently installing meters in the Scottsbluff area, and NPPD has received a report of a customer in that area being targeted by this scam.

These predatory individuals state the bill must be paid immediately or the power will be shut off and will recommend several methods of payment. Sometimes the scammer’s caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.

To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following tips and suggestions:

  • NPPD, as a business practice, does not call to ask customers for a credit card number.
  • NPPD does not demand payment with a pre-paid card.
  • Any customer receiving such a call should not attempt to make payment over the phone using a credit or debit card.
  • Write down the call back number or consider asking where the caller is located.
  • Contact law enforcement.
  • Let NPPD’s Centralized Customer Care Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD (877-275-6773) know about the call.
  • If served electrically by a rural public power district or municipality, customers should contact that organization before providing any type of payment.

1/13/2020
St. Paul gearing up to host second annual robotics tournament

Columbus, Neb. – Top robotics teams are headed to St. Paul High, Saturday, Jan. 18, for the school’s second annual CREATE Open Robotics Tournament powered by Nebraska Public Power District.

The St. Paul Open Robotics Tournament will see teams from nine different communities and schools pitting their robots against each other in competition. The challenges will also pair random teams together to complete tasks to earn points. “These students build some amazing robots, and in addition to learning technical skills, the students learn about leadership, communication, and sportsmanship ¬¬– all of which are demonstrated by NPPD employees on a day-to-day basis,” noted NPPD Careers Outreach Specialist Kim Liebig.

In total, thirty-two teams are registered to compete, from Columbus High School, St. Paul Public Schools, St. Edward High School, Hampton High School, Cross County High School, Millard West, Lakeview High School, Norfolk, and Aurora’s YETI-botics program.

Saturday’s tournament will open its doors at 7:15 a.m., with competition starting at 10:00 a.m. and taking place throughout the day, leading up to the finals matches at roughly 3:30 p.m.

“We are excited to help St. Paul host its second annual CREATE Open Robotics Tournament,” says NPPD’s Senior Education Specialist Chad Johnson. “Competitive robotics introduces students to technical workforce skills, problem solving, teamwork, and innovation. Thanks to St. Paul kids from around the state have another opportunity to put those skills to the test.” NPPD sponsors the Open division tournaments because of the focus on innovation and technical workforce skills including electrical engineering.

Many of the teams competing in Saturday’s tournament will also be exhibiting their skills in the Aurora Open & Innovation Showcase, February 1.

1/10/2020
Harding selected for three-year term on APPA council

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District Board member Mary Harding of Plattsmouth  was recently named to a three-year term on the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Policy Makers Council (PMC) by its Board of Directors.

A seventh generation Nebraskan, Harding graduated from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a degree in Bilingual Education and completed graduate work at the University of Colorado in Boulder in sociolinguistics. Mary and her husband operate a residential rental property business in Lincoln. She has served on the NPPD Board of Directors for 17 years and currently serves as second vice chair for 2020.

Harding is a member of the Plattsmouth Planning Commission, having been appointed in 2016

The Policy Makers Council assists APPA in promoting federal legislation that is important to public power utilities like NPPD and opposing harmful legislation.  It also provides advice on other issues of importance to the Association.  The PMC is made up of members who serve on either utility boards or are elected officials in public power communities.  Members of the Council meet a minimum of twice a year and participate in meetings with elected representatives and congressional staff for the purposes of supporting the APPA’s national legislative agenda.

APPA is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide.  The Association represents public power before the federal government to protect the interests of the more than 49 million customers that public power utilities serve, and the 93,000 people they employ.

The Association advocates and advises on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.  Its members strengthen their communities by providing superior service, engaging citizens, and instilling pride in community-owned power.

1/9/2020
Niobrara’s Barry DeKay elected NPPD chair for 2020

Columbus, Neb. – Barry DeKay of Niobrara was elected as Nebraska Public Power District’s Board Chair for 2020 following that body’s annual election of officers Wednesday in Columbus, replacing Gary Thompson of Clatonia who had served the past two years.

Also elected were Bill Johnson of Pilger as first vice chair, Mary Harding of Plattsmouth as second vice chair, and Jerry Chlopek of Columbus as secretary. NPPD Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Traci Bender was elected treasurer.

“I look forward to leading the Board in 2020 as we continue to work to keep our electric rates stable, provide strong customer service, and monitor and prepare for future regulations that would impact NPPD and our customers,” he stated. “I also want to thank Director Thompson for his leadership the past two years as Chair of the Board.”

DeKay began his term of office in 2015 when he was first elected to the NPPD Board, filling the seat previously held by Dennis Rasmussen. A native of Knox County, DeKay has been ranching for 43 years with his brother, and they are the fourth generation to work the family land.

He previously served as the Board’s first vice chair in 2018 and 2019 and chaired the Nuclear Committee of the Whole between 2017-19.

DeKay served on the Board of the Niobrara Valley Electric Membership Corporation between 1999 and 2014, holding the office of vice president in 2002-2003, and president between 2003-14. In addition, he held the titles of treasurer, vice president and president with the Nebraska Rural Electric Association.

He and his wife, Brenda, have two children. He is a member of the Knox County Cattlemen and Nebraska Cattlemen, serves as president of the Niobrara Valley Hospital Foundation, and is a council member of Sacred Heart Parish of Boyd County. He is also a high school and college basketball official.

DeKay represents Subdivision 2, which consists of Keya Paha, Boyd, Holt, Knox, Cedar, Garfield, Wheeler, Valley, Greeley, Sherman, Howard and Boone Counties.

The Board of Directors also re-appointed Donna Starzec assistant treasurer, and Christine Pillen deputy assistant treasurer. Jan Modelski was re-appointed as assistant secretary, and Sandra Keefover as deputy assistant secretary. All are from Columbus.

12/30/2019
Interested in solar energy?

Scottsbluff, Neb. – Residents of Scottsbluff who are interested in having solar energy as part of their electricity options, now have the opportunity!

The City of Scottsbluff, in cooperation and partnership with Nebraska Public Power District, will again offer community solar shares to their customers in Scottsbluff. A second community solar project is under construction in Scottsbluff, located near Landers Soccer Complex. The 4.375-megawatt solar farm, scheduled to go live this spring, will begin taking registration for shares from Scottsbluff residents and businesses on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. The initial solar farm, located at NPPD’s Scottsbluff office, was well received and sold out immediately.

“NPPD will purchase 100 percent of the output, selling all shares to interested businesses and residents for them to add to their electric mix,” said NPPD General Manager of Retail Tim Arlt. “It is estimated the solar project will provide $2 to $2.5 million in savings in energy costs over the 25-year agreement period for the city of Scottsbluff. We have seen a lot of interest across the entire state when it comes to our community solar program.”

In the initial signup for the community solar program in Scottsbluff, customers who purchased shares (150 kilowatt hours per share) paid a higher premium. Arlt pointed out that with the second community solar project all subscribers will see a bill credit for the community solar shares. The solar share prices will be blended together resulting in a production cost savings to all solar program participants.

“The community solar projects are not subsidized in any form or fashion,” Arlt pointed out. “Communities that choose not to participate in a community solar project do not pay any costs associated with facilities in participating communities. In fact, NPPD working with its partner communities, established clear guidelines that prohibited cost shifts or subsidies.” An end-use customer who decides not to participate in community solar will not see any impact on their bill.

Those wanting more information or who are interested in signing up for shares can do so online at https://nppd.com/sunwise.

NPPD has seen a growing interest in community solar including the communities of Norfolk, Chadron, O’Neill, Ainsworth Ogallala, Pawnee City, and Loup City.

12/17/2019
Senior management promotions announced by NPPD

Columbus, Neb. – Three promotions were announced regarding the senior management team at Nebraska Public Power District by President and CEO Pat Pope,

Tom Kent was promoted to the position of Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Tim Arlt was named Vice-President and General Manager of Retail, and Robyn Tweedy was appointed Vice-President and Chief Information Officer.

“For the last eight plus years I’ve been blessed with a relatively small, but very capable group of vice presidents,” Pope noted in making the announcement to District employees. “While the group’s small size has made communication and consensus building easier, it has also limited development opportunities at the senior level.  That needs to change as we anticipate the retirements that are sure to come down the road.”

Kent was named Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for NPPD in 2011 and has 30 years of electric utility experience and has held positions at Cooper Nuclear Station and in NPPD’s retail division. Prior to joining the senior management team, he was Manager of Transmission and Distribution. Kent holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition, he has completed the Reactor Technology Course for Utility Executives through MIT. Kent is a registered professional electrical engineer and a veteran of the United States Navy.

Previously, Tim Arlt served as General Manager of Retail Operations since 2011.  Prior to that he served as System Control Manager, Key Account Manager, and Contracts Manager. He has been with NPPD since 1980 and he holds an associate degree in electrical technology from Southeast Community College, a bachelor’s in business management from Concordia College, and a master’s in business administration from Wayne State.

Previous to being named Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Tweedy had most recently served as Manager of Retail Technology, Billing, and Customer Care and Customer Care Business Manager.  A District employee for 13 years, Tweedy holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of South Dakota and a master’s in business administration from Wayne State.

The new positions are effective January 1, 2020.

12/12/2019
No base rate increase, one-year bill credit for NPPD wholesale, retail customers in 2020

Columbus, Neb. – There was a piece of good news for Nebraska Public Power District customers during the monthly meeting of the Board of Directors: no increase in base electric rates and a one-year bill credit for 2020!

For NPPD retail customers the approval of no rate increase for 2020 marks the seventh year in a row with no increase, while wholesale customers (public power districts and municipalities) that purchase electricity from NPPD will see a third consecutive year with no base rate increase.

“No increase in our electric rates is good for the economy of Nebraska and the people who live and work here. It’s especially good for the agriculture economy of the state which has had some tough times recently,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Cost control has been important to NPPD and we have seen increased efficiencies and are operating very well. But at no time have we impacted service, reliability, or jeopardized the safety of our employees and customers.”

On the wholesale side, rural public power districts and municipalities will see a production cost adjustment (PCA) credit averaging 6.2% on their monthly bill for the next year. NPPD’s Board voted to return $46.1 million in rate stabilization funds back to its wholesale customers, 46 municipalities and 24 rural public power districts and rural cooperatives, through the PCA which will run from February 2020 to January 2021.

NPPD will enter a seventh year without a base rate increase for its retail customers which includes residential, commercial and industrial customers in 79 communities in NPPD’s service territory such as Scottsbluff, Kearney, York, Norfolk and Plattsmouth. Those NPPD retail customers who receive a bill directly from NPPD will see a PCA credit on their monthly bill between February 2020 through January 2021, ranging from 2% to 4% depending on the customer class and electrical usage.

“Our wholesale electric rates continue to be very competitive when compared to more than 800 other power suppliers we benchmark against,” said Pope. “On the retail side, NPPD has kept its electric rates stable for end-use customers for six years straight and 2020 will make it seven years.”

NPPD benchmarks its wholesale rate with the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation’s wholesale power cost. Several years ago, NPPD established a goal of being in CFC’s lowest quartile (below the 25 percentile mark) and were at the 26.9-percentile mark in the most recent benchmarking conducted in 2018.

A complete list of retail and wholesale customers by communities, public power districts and co-operatives can be found at http://www.nppd.com/about-us/who-we-serve.

12/6/2019
Shopping for an electric vehicle or rooftop solar? Public Powered calculators will help in that search

Columbus, Neb. – Public interest in electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow, with the number of EVs registered in Nebraska doubling since July 2018.

“Along with that growth comes an increased need for education,” said Nebraska Public Power District’s Marketing Manager Chad Podolak. “There are differences in comparing EVs with traditional gasoline/diesel powered vehicles, such as mileage by charge versus miles per gallon, cost of fuel, available incentives, and purchase price.”

That’s where the Public Powered EV calculator comes in handy. This calculator can compare a wide variety of EV and conventional vehicle models, determine costs and savings, and even estimate carbon reduction projections. It is now available at https://publicpowered.wattplan.com/ev/. “Using the calculator is easy, takes just minutes to do, and you only need a minimal amount of information to initiate vehicle comparisons,” Podolak added.

By adding in personal information on the amount of mileage for round trips, the cost of your current monthly electric bill, and other items based primarily on charging the vehicle at home, a comparison is developed. Using this data, the calculator can estimate your breakeven point during which time you will begin achieving cost savings. It will also project how far your selected EV could travel on a single charge, mapping that range visually. Also available is detailed information on current NPPD and federal EV incentives, charging station locations and benefits of using an EV, and the tool includes an EV 101 guide.

“The calculator is a good resource for the public to determine whether an EV is right for them based on their individual transportation needs,” Podolak stressed.

For those interested in installing customer-owned solar, there is also a new calculator available at https://publicpowered.wattplan.com/pv/, which will help a homeowner or business make informed decisions relating to the purchase of solar panels. The tool estimates the cost of installing rooftop solar by taking into consideration the direction the rooftop faces, its slope, and the amount of shade it receives. Within this tool, a homeowner will obtain much of the same information as above, while also gaining additional resources relating to the benefits of participating in community solar projects, should rooftop not be an economical choice for rooftop solar.

For details on NPPD’s EV and charging station incentives, visit https://www.nppd.com/save-money/incentives-programs#electric-vehicle and information on community and customer-owned solar can be found at https://www.nppd.com/powering-nebraska/solar.

12/2/2019
Hampton High School hosting first ever robotics tournament

Columbus, Neb. – December 7 will mark a first for Hampton High School who is hosting its inaugural robotics tournament for over 25 central Nebraska teams.

“It’s very exciting to see Hampton High School bringing robotics teams into their school to compete with each other. It’s a great opportunity to introduce students to technical workforce skills, problem solving, teamwork and innovation,” says Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) Senior Education Specialist Chad Johnson. “Nebraska is a leader in competitive robotics and having more schools getting involved at different levels is a great way to continue that trend.” NPPD sponsors the Open division tournaments because of the focus on innovation and opportunities in electrical engineering.

Competing teams will be randomly paired with other teams from different communities, to complete tasks and earn points. “These students build some amazing robots, and in addition to learning technical skills, the students learn about leadership, communication, and sportsmanship – all of which are demonstrated by NPPD employees on a day-to-day basis,” noted NPPD Careers Outreach Specialist Kim Liebig.

Teams from Columbus, Hampton, Henderson, Holdrege, Stromsburg, St. Paul and York will be competing in the inaugural tournament. Doors will open to competitors at 7:30 a.m. with matches taking place throughout the day, leading up to the finals matches at roughly 3:15 p.m.

High school and middle school teams will participate in multiple CREATE Open Tournaments powered by NPPD throughout the year. Several tournaments have already been scheduled across the state, leading up to the US Open Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa this April.

11/25/2019
Winter weather is just around the corner; NPPD advises public to stay away from downed lines

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska has felt a touch of winter weather this fall and more is expected during Thanksgiving week – and the official start of winter is not until mid-December. With winter months still  ahead, there is more risk of freezing temperatures, high winds and snowfall ahead.

And with those conditions brings the possibility of power outages – including having no power for homes and businesses for a period of time and downed power lines. Being aware of the dangers of downed power lines remains important according to Nebraska Public Power District.

High winds, heavy snow and ice build-up can cause power lines to break or falter. “The snow looks light coming down and accumulates and gets heavier. It brings the branches down and they droop down on the lines,” said NPPD Distribution Supervisor Ray Boston. “That’s when a line can go down and cause an outage.”  Boston noted that NPPD does annual patrols of lines in retail communities and determines what trees need to be trimmed back to avoid having an outage and hopefully eliminate any outages during the winter months.

But it is also important, according to Boston, that anytime someone sees a power line down on the ground they should stay clear of the area and notify their local public power provider immediately, who have trained personnel and will be able to remove the lines safely.

Winter storms can bring a few different threats to power lines including galloping, downed, and floating wires. Galloping wire, seen mainly around transmission lines, occur when high winds force two adjacent power lines to hit each other, which may cause an outage. Floating wires consist of power lines that have been broken and are blowing in the wind or are not long enough to contact the ground.

If a powerline falls on a roadway, motorists should not try to drive over the line or move it from the roadway. This could result in serious injury. If a power line were to fall on top of a driver’s vehicle, the occupants should remain inside, call for help, and wait for a trained professional lineman to remove the downed line.

NPPD encourages the public to be aware in storm conditions this winter and review numerous safety tips on its website. NPPD customers can call 1-877-ASK-NPPD or go to NPPD.com to report an outage or damaged power line.

11/18/2019
Cross County to host competitive robotics season opener

Columbus, Neb. – As late November approaches, robotics teams are gearing up for the start of the 2019-20 season, with Cross County High School hosting the local opening competition Saturday, November 23.

Doors will open to competitors at 7:30 a.m. with matches taking place throughout the day, leading up to the finals matches at roughly 3:15 p.m. Cross County High School is located at 1270 123 Road, just south of Stromsburg.

“Nebraska continues to be a leader in the competitive robotics space, with over 370 teams already registered to compete at various age levels, in upcoming tournaments. We expect that number to continue growing throughout the season,” says Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) Senior Education Specialist Chad Johnson. “Competitive robotics introduces students to technical workforce skills, problem solving, teamwork, and innovation.” NPPD sponsors the Open division tournaments because of the focus on innovation and opportunities in electrical engineering.

Competing teams will be randomly paired with other teams from different communities, to complete tasks and earn points. “These students build some amazing robots, and in addition to learning technical skills, the students learn about leadership, communication, and sportsmanship ¬¬– all of which are demonstrated by NPPD employees on a day-to-day basis,” noted NPPD Careers Outreach Specialist Kim Liebig.

Approximately forty teams from Aurora, Axtell, Columbus, Hampton, Henderson, Holdrege, Norfolk, Omaha, York, St. Edward and St. Paul will be competing in the opening tournament. Following the competition at Cross County, the next tournament will be held at Hampton High School on December 7.

High school and middle school teams will participate in multiple CREATE Open Tournaments powered by NPPD throughout the year. Several tournaments have already been scheduled across the state, leading up to the US Open Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa this April.

11/14/2019
NPPD not seeking pay for tree trimming in McCook area

Columbus, Neb. – Officials from Nebraska Public Power District are warning customers, particularly in the McCook area, that an individual is contacting customers about tree trimming that NPPD is requiring the work to be done and asking for cash payment.

NPPD said that when they do necessary tree trimming near power lines there is no charge to the landowner for the work. The utility recommends that if approached they should contact local law enforcement in McCook or law enforcement where they live, and NPPD at 1-888-ASK-NPPD (1-888-275-6773).

10/23/2019
NPPD installs EV charging stations at three locations

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska residents and travelers will notice electric vehicle (EV) stations emerging across Nebraska Public Power District’s service territory.

Charging units have now been installed at NPPD’s Norfolk Operations Center and the Ogallala Operations Center, and are now fully operational. A third unit is also being installed at the Kearney Operations Center and is expected to be operational by early November. NPPD installed a charging station at its Columbus General Offices in 2018.

"Electrification in transportation is moving fast, and so is NPPD," York Director of Operations Support  Matt Gilliland said. "From 2019 to 2021, NPPD will increase ownership from one EV and one charging station to four EVs and eight stations."

Charging stations already under development were partially funded by grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and Nebraska Community Energy Alliance. "Additional grant requests are being submitted for 2020 that include three more stations and two additional Sport Utility EVs," said Gilliland. "These three chargers will be similarly placed in areas that experience relatively high public traffic, have emerging EV ownership and are routine destinations of NPPD's existing EV assets."

The charger at all NPPD locations is a Charge Point unit (Level 2) and the station can be activated by smart phone or a Charge Point card.  Data and fees are collected by Charge Point and data is provided to NPPD.  The charge is set at $1 for a four-hour session, $1 per additional hour.

Also, NPPD has also teamed up with the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance in offering several incentives based on electric vehicles.  The largest available incentive is for the purchase of an EV and a ChargePoint home charging station in the amount of $4,500, with $4,000 going towards the purchase of a vehicle.  Another $500 would be available for the charging station installation at a single or multi-family residential location with internet wireless connectivity.

Two other incentives are also available. One is for a ChargePoint home charging station installation of $500 and  a $100 incentive is available for the pre-wiring for the installation of a residential EV charging station in the future.

Details of all three incentive programs can be found at https://www.nppd.com/save-money/incentives-programs#electric-vehicle.

Location addresses of NPPD facilities with EV charging stations:

  • Norfolk Operations Center: 1200 South Chestnut Street
  • Ogallala Operations Center: 300 South Clarice Road
  • Kearney Operations Center: 900 4th Avenue
  • Columbus General Office: 1414 15th Street

10/14/2019
Matching grants available from NPPD for purchase, installation of EV charging stations

Columbus, Neb. – Interest in electric vehicles (EV) continues to grow and Nebraska Public Power District is aiming to assist in the addition of charging stations in its service territory.

At the same time, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) is taking applications for its Electric Vehicle Charging Grant Program, called “Charge Up Nebraska,” from businesses, federal, state, local or tribal organizations, transportation planning organizations, and non-profits. The grant would pay 80 percent of the costs of purchasing and installing a Level 3 DC Fast Charging station and a Level 2 Charging Station at 50 percent. A DC Fast Charging Station would allow a vehicle to be charged up 80 percent in a 30-40 minute session. Level 2 charging stations typically take between four and eight hours to charge to full.

That’s where NPPD is offering its assistance – helping to make up the difference by several thousand dollars.

“With an 80 percent grant on a Fast Charger, there remains 20 percent of the costs that still must be covered,” said NPPD Marketing Manager Chad Podolak, “The program NPPD is offering would match the commitment by the organization that is applying. For example, it would be 10 percent commitment with NPPD matching that 10 percent.” The program would be available to those who are retail customers of NPPD or are served by most wholesale customers of NPPD.

The NDEE program also will provide grant money for a Level 2 Charging station capping at 50 percent. If the organization commits 25 percent, NPPD will match that amount.

“This is an opportunity for a business such as a hotel or local government to provide a charging unit without having to cover the full cost, only a small percentage,” Podolak added. “We believe that within the next four years, there will be multiple electric vehicle model options that Nebraskans desire, particularly various models of trucks and SUVs, that will need charging locations.

“One of the main focuses for electric utilities, such as NPPD and its wholesale customers, is to promote and invest where prudent to build this public charging infrastructure. As the majority of EV charging is done at home at night, new EV electrical load allows better utilization of existing generation, transmission, and distribution outages.”

Funds for the NDEE program come from the $12.25 million allocation from the Volkswagen Diesel Emission Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries. Up to $1.2 million in rebates are available to install charging equipment at qualified locations. Information and applications on the program can be found at http://dee.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/AirVW. The application deadline is Nov. 15, 2019.

Business, local government or other organizations interested in finding out about the matching funds should contact NPPD at 1-877-275-6773 or their local electricity supplier.

10/9/2019
Scottsbluff, local communities getting new meters

Columbus, Neb. - Upgrading electric meters at residences and businesses in Scottsbluff and nine communities  to begin on Monday, Oct. 14. Besides Scottsbluff, NPPD customers in Mitchell, Morrill, Gering, Terrytown, Melbeta, Minatare, McGrew, Bayard, Bridgeport and Northport will be exchanged and replaced with upgraded meters.

In 2019 approximately 24,500 meters in 33 communities will be replaced, as part of a three-year project by NPPD.

Prior to installation, the District’s customer service organization will contact retail customers (those who receive a bill from NPPD) in those communities via phone to alert them to the installation of the meters. A District employee will switch out the meter at the residence or business and will remove the old one from the premises. A resident or business owner does not need to be there when the switch out occurs and there will be a brief interruption of electric service.

The new meters are equipped with two-way communication known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a digital metering technology used around the world for more than a decade and will include the latest technology in this type of equipment. The new meters display the reading in a digital LCD format. The meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed that will receive and securely transmit the data back to NPPD on the total amount of kilowatt hours used by a residence, business or industry.

“In addition to what we will do this year, in 2018 we successfully replaced 43,000 meters and more will be replaced in 2020. The installation of the AMI systems helps maintain competitive electric rates for our customers by reducing operating expenses,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt, who noted that NPPD’s retail customers have not had a rate increase over the past six years. “With AMI equipment we can also pinpoint the exact location of outages quicker, meaning a faster response time in restoring power.”

The new AMI meters will continue to be key in providing reliable electric service for its customers and provide an additional level of safety for NPPD employees when troubleshooting or handling routine maintenance. The new AMI equipment cannot control any appliances or electronics within a residence or business.

In addition to the new meters, NPPD will also have numerous routers placed strategically in the community to relay the information to NPPD’s operations.

10/1/2019
Paige Wireless, NPPD team up to accelerate interconnectivity

Columbus, Neb. - Paige Wireless LLC., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Paige Electric L.P., announced Saturday a partnership with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) to accelerate the deployment of interconnectivity across Nebraska for computing devices embedded in everyday objects via the Internet, enabling them to send and receive data. Otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT), this interconnectivity will be made possible by the Paige Wireless LoRaWAN® network that was recently installed throughout the state.

“The collaboration between Paige Wireless and NPPD will enable the use of breakthrough technology to deliver exciting new programs and services to our customers” stated Pat Pope, CEO of NPPD.

“We recognize the countless opportunities this technology brings to our great state and we are dedicated to maximizing its capabilities to best serve our customers” added Pope.

The Paige Wireless network aims to reignite rural America’s status as an epicenter for new, practical technologies that help industries, farmers, businesses, students and communities thrive. Nebraska’s new LoRaWAN® network allows users to deploy low-cost sensors, access real time data, and make on-demand decisions to improve efficiency, safety, security, actionability, and the bottom line.

On the farm, Paige Wireless is providing solutions to help maximize resources and yield, driven by real time data. Producers across the state now have greater insight into their daily operations. Paige Wireless’ LoRaWAN® network exists to enable producers to lower their costs with more efficient water, nutrient, feed and soil health management. The data collected can offer actionable insight and answers into questions about methodology, sustainability and stewardship. The benefits for rural and farmland applications once considered unimaginable are now within reach.

NPPD sees numerous applications including grid communications and security, advanced data collection for asset management, and efficient electrification of the economy as the technology also has the potential to facilitate broadband deployment in underserved rural areas, through innovative partnerships with local telecommunication companies, internet service providers, and wireless internet service providers.

“We are thrilled to partner with NPPD to further expand the capabilities of our network and services across Nebraska” says Julie Bushell, President of Paige Wireless. “This collaboration will deliver the true benefits of connectivity.”

Together, Paige Wireless and NPPD are powering the IoT across Nebraska.

10/1/2019
Department of Energy awards funding for Phase II of carbon capture study for Gentleman Station

Columbus, Neb. – The next step towards the potential for a carbon capture operation at Nebraska Public Power District’s Gerald Gentleman Station is moving forward with the announcement of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory’s funding for the study.

Under this new funding, ION Clean Energy, Inc. will be the award recipient on the project which will complete a Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study for the installation of its advanced carbon capture system retrofitted to NPPD’s Gentleman Station near Sutherland.  The FEED study will build on the results of Phase I, increasing the capture size from 300 megawatts CO2 capture island up to 600 megawatts. ION will utilize its leading solvent-based CO2 capture technology, ICE-21, as the basis for the CO2 capture design.

“NPPD continues to be interested in the project moving forward because our coal burning generation resources bring significant value to our customers,” said Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent. “We are seeking these types of technologies that can capture CO2 in a cost-effective manner.”

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with NPPD to further evaluate the integration of ION’s transformative CO2 capture technology at an existing coal-fired power station,” said Alfred “Buz” Brown, ION’s CEO. “These types of strategic collaborations are key milestones on the path to commercialization of ION’s large scale decarbonization technology.”

DOE selected nine projects to receive $55.4 million in federal funding for cost shared research and development. The award for Phase II for the GGS study is approximately $5.8 million.  

The project team for the Phase II study are ION, NPPD, Sargent & Lundy, Koch Modular Process Systems, and Siemens.  The project will provide critical data and insight into the integration of CO2 capture technologies onto existing coal fired power plants.

9/30/2019
Power line safety important as harvest gets underway

Columbus, Neb. – Spring flooding has caused Nebraska farmers to have an unusual growing season, but as operators head out to harvest crops, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to remind farmers to look up and look out for power lines.

Hitting power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season, as farmers take large pieces of equipment back out to the field. “It’s important for operators to be cautious when working in areas that have power lines,” says NPPD Director of Delivery Art Weise. “It’s easy for an operator to accidentally get a piece of equipment stuck in a power line if they are not completely aware of their surroundings.”

In July, NPPD saw an example of this when a well drilling rig being driven through a field became tangled in an overhead power line, causing a localized power outage. Luckily no one was injured.

“Avoiding contact with power lines is the best way to stay safe, but if a piece of your equipment hits a power line, calling for help is an important step in avoiding potentially fatal injuries,” says Wiese. “When a powerline is touching a piece of equipment, that piece of equipment and the area surrounding it could be energized.” If you are forced to exit the vehicle, the appropriate action is to jump – not step – with both feet landing on the ground at the same time without falling. Do not touch the vehicle and ground at the same time and begin shuffling your feet on the ground to safety. Never simply step out of the vehicle – the person must jump clear of the equipment.

NPPD recommends that farmers review the following safety precautions before entering the fields to begin harvest operations, or for more details and video footage follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfikot58Fkk.

  • Each day review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions.
  • Know the location of power lines, and when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them. Contact your local public power provider if you feel this distance cannot be achieved.
  • Use caution when raising augers or the bed of a grain truck or wagon. It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. When moving large equipment or high loads near a power line, always use a spotter to make certain the equipment stays a safe distance from the line.
  • Always adjust portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level – under 14 feet – before moving or transporting them. Variables like wind, uneven ground, shifting weight, or other conditions can combine to create an unexpected result.
  • Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting larger modern tractors with higher antennas.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call your public power utility to repair them.
  • As in any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles, or rods near or into power lines. Non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes, and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness and dust and dirt contamination.

View News Release Archive