Columbus, Neb. – Spring is slowly creeping along, which means farmers and ranchers are gearing up for planting season. On the flip side, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) urges caution in the fields when it comes to power lines and large farm equipment.
“We encourage the farming community to look up and around for powerlines,” said Scott Walz, NPPD Distribution and Transmission Maintenance Manager. “A year ago, we had a rash of contacts between equipment, primarily boom sprayers and power lines, during planting season. The contacts caused numerous power outages and fortunately no loss of life. Nevertheless, contact by with any equipment with a power line has the potential to damage the electronics in the unit.”
Walz recommends that after moving large equipment into the field, operators should review where the power lines are in relationship to their equipment. “After determining where the overhead lines are and making any adjustments to the equipment, in the case of boom sprayer, you can start to unrack the unit,” Walz pointed out. When operators complete their work, they should double-check the lines before re-racking the equipment.
“We want to keep the lights on,” Walz added, “but most importantly, we want farmers and their crews to go home safe every day.”
Contact with a powerline or even being within a few feet of the line with a piece of equipment can result in a dangerous, potentially fatal, situation. The first thing to do after making contact, or if a line falls on the equipment, is to call 911 and remain inside the vehicle as the line may still be energized. Law enforcement can contact NPPD or one of the many rural public power districts who will safely remove the lines and stabilize the situation.
In the event an individual is forced to leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible from the equipment, making sure no body part touches the equipment and the ground at the same time. It is crucial to land standing with both feet together. The individual should then shuffle their feet, making sure to never break contact with the ground or cause separation between the feet. Do not attempt to return to the equipment and always wait for emergency responders and the power utility to respond.
For more information, see the safety tips below:
Chadron, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) got a jump start on celebrating Arbor Day (April 30) by planting several trees at Chadron State Park on Tuesday, April 27.
Throughout the past 16 years NPPD has worked with various retail communities it serves, to hold an annual Arbor Day tree planting event, with the past three events being held in Dakota City, Norfolk, and Ogallala respectively. “We look forward to celebrating Arbor Day each year with one of our retail communities,” NPPD Community Outreach Supervisor Heidi Elliott stated. “Chadron State Park seemed like an ideal choice to hold this year’s tree planting as both the park and the Nebraska State Park system celebrate their 100th anniversary this summer.”
“Our Park is thrilled to receive nine new trees, and it comes at the perfect time as we prepare for the Park’s anniversary and helps us recognize Earth Day and Arbor Day. The trees will add beauty and shade to several areas of the Park which have recently been updated or seen new construction,” noted Chadron State Park Superintendent Gregg Galbraith
NPPD was recently acknowledged by Tree Line USA for the 16th consecutive year, for meeting the organization’s standards of training employees in quality tree care and educating the public on tree planting for energy conservation and appropriate planting near power lines.
The Tree Line USA program 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.
Columbus, Neb. - Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) has contracted with Osmose Utilities Service to inspect wood poles used in its distribution, sub transmission and transmission operations throughout the District’s service territory. Crews from the contractors are beginning inspections this month and will be completing the work by July 1.
This process involves ground line excavation, inspection and rehabilitation treatment. Crews will be dressed in high visibility vests, hard hats and will be traveling in Osmose marked pickup trucks with beacon lights.
The inspection program is a proactive approach to finding poles with decay before it’s too late and the poles fail. NPPD will have nearly 11,000 poles inspected this year. The work will include determining what poles may need to be replaced.
Anyone who has questions relating to this activity, please call 1-877-ASK-NPPD (275-6773). A customer service representative will then contact the necessary NPPD personnel to address any issues.
Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) has earned the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices during 2020, ranking first among similar sized utilities.
NPPD was recognized with the award during the APPA’s annual Engineering & Operations Virtual Conference on Wednesday, March 24.
“Utilities that receive an APPA Safety Award have demonstrated that they have made the health and safety of their employees a core value,” said APPA Safety Committee Chair Brandon Wylie. “Designing and maintaining a top-notch utility safety program takes a lot of hard work and commitment. These utilities and their communities should be very proud.”
“It’s always nice to be recognized for your efforts, but this really just shows how committed our team is to work safely, while making sure we provide reliable electricity,” adds NPPD Corporate Safety Manager Brad Palu. “We all recognize the importance of going home to our families each day and keeping an eye out for the safety of our colleagues and neighbors.”
There were 329 utilities from across the country entered into the annual APPA Safety Awards, and each were grouped and ranked against similar sized utilities. NPPD specifically was grouped with and ranked against 11 other utilities.
The APPA Safety Awards have been held annually for the last 65 years.
Columbus, Neb. - As a part of Severe Weather Awareness Week March 22-28, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to emphasize the danger of broken or downed powerlines.
Severe weather conditions, such as high winds and lighting, can cause a structure or powerline to be damaged or break. This can leave a live powerline either floating in the air or laying on the ground, creating a dangerous situation.
“When a powerline is lying on the ground or over a roadway, it can charge the ground around it with electricity, and if anyone were to get too close to that line it could result in a potentially fatal situation,” says NPPD Vice-President of Energy Delivery Art Wiese. “If someone comes across a downed powerline, they should avoid the area and call their local power utility or 911, so trained professionals can deenergize the line and make sure it’s repaired safely.”
If a situation occurred where a powerline fell on a vehicle, it’s important the driver and passengers remain inside the vehicle until help can arrive. The powerline could electrically charge the vehicle and exiting could cause serious or fatal injury.
“When someone is in this type of situation, we ask them to remain in the vehicle and call 911 for help,” notes Wiese. “If something like a fire, forces you to exit the vehicle, you should make sure you get to the edge of your vehicle and jump away landing on two feet, never touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then shuffle away from the vehicle until you’re at a safe distance.”
When severe weather conditions are anticipated, NPPD crews from around the state prepare for an emergency response. “We have to first determine the extent of damage, bring in the necessary crews, and then begin the work of restoration,” Wiese added.
Tips on safety precautions during a power outage are available at Electrical Safety.
Columbus, Neb. - Nebraska Public Power District irrigation crews will be replacing a culvert along the Dawson County Canal beginning Monday, March 15, that will cause some restrictions on certain types of traffic.
Work will be done approximately two miles north and two miles east of Overton at the intersection of Road 755 and Road 446. The work is expected to run through March 26, weather permitting.
There will be a shoefly constructed to allow access through the construction site, but large farm equipment or semis will not be able to be accommodated during the period of construction. NPPD is contacting nearby residents about the construction work.
Columbus, Neb. – The recent sub-zero weather conditions in Nebraska and throughout the Midwest are expected to impact consumer electric bills, but Nebraska Public Power District does not foresee the same magnitude some in Texas may face.
Electric demand on NPPD’s system was up during the five days of record cold temperatures but there is no overall rate increase for NPPD’s 2021 electric rates. The NPPD Board of Directors set rates each year and the most recent rates approved, which went into effect on February 1, have remained the same for the past eight years.
But electric bills are expected to be higher than normal when bills arrive in early March.
“If a customer used more electricity than they normally do, their bill will likely go up for the month,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Pat Hanrahan. “Bills will be dependent on how much electricity each customer used, but the overall rate for electricity did not change. Customers who took conservation measures, like lowering their thermostats, may not see much of an increase. Customers who did not take conservative measures should expect to see a higher than normal electric bill.” A typical Nebraska residence uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, but some preliminary review appears to be running about 30 percent higher.
Having no overall rate increases for eight years is part of NPPD’s efforts as a public power organization to keep costs low for the consumers, doing so while still providing reliable electric service.
Customers who need to make payment arrangements or get energy assistance from local agencies are encouraged to contact NPPD at 1-877-ASK-NPPD. NPPD’s retail customers can also download NPPD’s mobile app (NPPD on the Go!). The mobile app can be used to set up notification preferences for bill ready and/or high usage alerts, e-billing, usage patterns, and more at their fingertips.
Columbus, Neb. - Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is asking power customers around the state to be wary of scammers trying to take advantage of the recent winter weather and power outages.
These predatory individuals will call and state the customer’s bill must be paid immediately or the power will be shut off and will recommend several methods of payment. They may also indicate that immediate payment will keep someone from being included in emergent rotating outages. Sometimes the scammer’s caller-identification is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as ‘spoofing’.
“Scammers have gotten very crafty in recent years and will often strike during severe events. Scammers can be very convincing and will do their best to get someone worried, or confused enough, they make a mistake and give away their money,” says NPPD Retail General Manager Pat Hanrahan. “This past week has been difficult for many people, and it’s important to remember these scammers are always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of someone.”
One NPPD customer reported Thursday, a scammer called them posing as Publisher’s Clearing House and said because they paid their electric bill every month, they were entered into a drawing and won a large chunk of money. The scammer asked for the customer’s banking information so they could deliver the money, but the customer refused and reported the call.
To help customers be wary of such scams, NPPD offers the following tips and suggestions:
For more information concerning scam calls, view https://www.nppd.com/accounts-billing/scams.
Columbus, Neb. - Wholesale and retail customers of Nebraska Public Power District are being asked to take steps to conserve energy use due to current and future low temperatures that are affecting the state and midwestern portion of the country.
Customers are asked to reduce any electrical usage effective immediately and through midnight, Feb. 15, and the following 48 hours to mitigate the risk of potential widespread and longer-lasting outages. The effects of widespread and extreme cold weather have led to increasingly tightening conditions in Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) service territory which NPPD is a member.
NPPD is currently operating all available generating resources to meet demand but request voluntary conservation by electric consumers.
Electric consumers can do the following to assist without putting safety at risk:
To view SPP current grid conditions, click the following link - https://spp.org/markets-operations/current-grid-conditions/
UPDATE (2/18): During the late evening hours, the Southwest Power Pool moved and currently remains at an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1, indicating they have enough power to meet load requirements. We are cautiously optimistic that we are through the worst of this emergency event as the storm moves further east. However, the situation remains fluid and levels may change quickly during heavier energy consumption times of before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
UPDATE (2/17): At 6:20 p.m. (CST) the Southwest Power Pool moved to an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 urging all homes and businesses to conserve electricity, but are not directing any interruptions of service at this time. We will keep you informed if things change.
UPDATE (2/17): The Southwest Power Pool recently moved to an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1, indicating they have enough power to meet load requirements. Should the region lose a large generation resource, they could still move back to an EEA Level 2 or higher. We appreciate your continued efforts in conserving energy. We will keep you informed if things change.
UPDATE (2/17): We have been able to avoid service interruptions this morning, but things may change quickly. SPP is currently at a level 2. The next couple of hours are critical and we will keep you informed if things change. We appreciate our customers’ efforts to continue conserving energy.
UPDATE (2/17): WE HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED THAT SPP WILL BE MOVING TO AN ENERGY EMERGENCY ALERT LEVEL 3 AT 9 A.M (CST). This may affect service to our customers. We will have very little, if any, notice of where these interruptions may take place. Please prepare for outages lasting 45 minutes or longer.
System constraints are managed by SPP reliability coordinators and its member utilities. Energy Emergency Alerts include three levels.
Level 1 indicates all available generation resources are in use.
Level 2 indicates load management procedures are in effect.
Level 3 indicates firm load interruptions are imminent or in progress.
UPDATE (2/16): We want to acknowledge those who have been impacted by interruptions in their electric service over the past 48 hours due to this emergency event. Our own families and friends have gone without power. The person writing this post had his power interrupted this morning. By doing these planned, controlled service interruptions, we are taking the necessary steps to prevent system conditions to worsen and cause uncontrolled outages, which could impact a larger number of customers and have longer-lasting effects. We thank everyone for your patience and willingness to conserve energy during these frigid times.
This emergency event is very fluid, and as energy usage increases this evening and into tomorrow morning, we may need to take quick action, again. We will work hard to minimize outages frequencies and lengths while protecting the stability of the power grid. We ask that you continue to conserve electricity and make plans in case your power is interrupted over the next 24-48 hours.
UPDATE (2/16) : Tom Kent, President & CEO, held a media conference this morning to address the current power interruption event impacting customers due to the cold weather. Tom addresses why this has happened, what NPPD is doing to keep the power and furnaces on for its customers and for Nebraskans, and what to expect in the next 48 hours. Please take a listen and we will work to keep you updated in the upcoming hours. https://vimeo.com/513070359
UPDATE (2/16) : At this time, SPP has notified our system operators that we can stop the rolling 45-minute service interruptions to our customers. Our teammates are working diligently to restore power to all those impacted. Again, due to the cold weather, there might be issues with some equipment. Our lineworkers will address them on site. If you are still without power, please call 877-ASK-NPPD if you are an NPPD customer, or contact your local public power provider.
PLEASE NOTE, we are likely to see outages again tonight and possibly into tomorrow. So please plan for possible outages lasting 45 minutes. Please continue to take all reasonable steps to conserve energy use. We will continue to provide updates as conditions evolve.
UPDATE (2/16) : ROLLING 45-MINUTE OUTAGES: Our operators continue to manage the rolling service interruptions that are impacting communities. Please expect these service interruptions to now last around 45 minutes. These outages are planned and controlled by our operators at a centralized location to keep the electric grid stable and keep the power on for as many Nebraskans as possible. Sometimes, when our operators restore power, there might be a mechanical failure due to the extreme cold. Our lineworkers are out in the field and are on standby to manually close the breakers to get the power on as soon as possible. If you are impacted, and service isn’t restored after 45 minutes, please call 877-ASK-NPPD.
TUESDAY (2/16) AM UPDATE: To maintain system reliability, we have just been informed by SPP that we need to do emergency coordinated interruptions of service. These 30-minute interruptions of service occur in real-time, so we have very little, if any, notice as to where these interruptions will take place. This is done to prevent longer, uncontrolled outages. If you experience a controlled outage, it should only last approximately 30 minutes.
UPDATE TO TODAY’S (2/15) EVENT: NPPD is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which is a regional transmission organization that ensures reliable supplies of electricity across its 14-state footprint.
SPP’s service area unexpectedly lost some generating units earlier today, which caused them to declare an energy emergency. SPP directed power utilities in 14 states to share in an effort to shed load (interrupt service to customers) due to lack of electricity to meet demand because of the cold temperatures.
NPPD’s first priority is to keep the electricity flowing for our customers and ensure the integrity and reliability of the region’s electric grid. We coordinated rolling, 30-minute outages impacting a few communities to keep the event from cascading and affecting more communities and customers. Our operators plan and prepare for events like this. However, we get very little notice. We take immediate action to keep the lights and furnaces on for as many Nebraskans as we can.
What we can tell you is this. Things are OK now. But as temps drop later tonight and as people start their day in the morning, there is still the potential for service interruptions. You can help your family, friends, and neighbors by conserving electricity these next few days and staying prepared. And if power is interrupted, trust we will get power restored as quickly as possible for YOU, our friends, families, and neighbors.
Stay warm. Stay safe. And thanks for your patience.
MONDAY (2/15) UPDATE: The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 which means we were directed to do emergency coordinated interruptions of service which resulted in rolling, 30-minute outages across parts of our service territory to maintain system reliability.
For the time being, SPP has paused these outages, but may need to enforce again. Due to these interruptions occurring in real-time, we receive very little, if any, notice as to when these interruptions will take place over the next few days. Please continue to conserve energy and charge your cell phones, electric devices, and home medical devices.
Columbus, Neb. – Mary Harding of Plattsmouth was elected as Chair of Nebraska Public Power District’s Board of Directors for 2021 following that body’s annual election of officers Wednesday in Columbus.
Also elected were Jerry Chlopek of Columbus as first vice chair, Melissa Freelend of Kearney as second vice chair, and Ed Schrock of Elm Creek as secretary. NPPD Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Traci Bender was elected treasurer.
“I look forward to working with our Board and management team during 2021 as we look to the future of our energy resources and continue to keep electric rates to our customers stable,” Harding stated.
Harding, who represents Subdivision 1 was recently elected in November to her fourth term on the Board and was initially being elected in November 2003. Previously she served as Vice-Chair in 2020 and as Secretary on eight other occasions. A graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a degree in Bilingual Education she also completed graduate work at the University of Colorado in Boulder in sociolinguistics.
Harding is the former Executive Director of the Nebraska Environmental Trust and Executive Director of the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters. She and her husband, Richard Erickson, have four grown children and operate a property rental business in the Lincoln area.
Harding represents Subdivision 1 which consist of Cass, Saunders, Lancaster and Seward 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.
North Platte, Neb. - Winter weather has touched most, if not all, of the state. With the winter weather comes the opportunity to enjoy activities, like skating or ice fishing. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants the public to be aware of how ice conditions can change, particularly at Lake Maloney, Sutherland Reservoir, Lake Ogallala and the Sutherland Canal System, before going out on the ice.
“All of these bodies of water along NPPD’s systems have moving water,” says NPPD’s Water and Renewable Energy Manager Kirk Evert. “Flowing water can cause ice conditions and thickness to change, and people should be aware of this if they plan to ice fish, skate or snowmobile on NPPD-owned water resources.”
Evert notes at Lake Maloney in particular, the area around the forebay (the area leading up to the hydro) and diversion are where ice conditions are most vulnerable to change because of water flows. Ice conditions can be safe one day and unsafe the next, and NPPD posts signs around Lake Maloney and Sutherland Reservoir warning of potential for thin ice.
Experts indicate that for one individual to be safe on ice, it needs to be at least four inches thick.
Some general safety tips regarding ice covered bodies of water include:
Columbus, Neb. – Gov. Pete Ricketts joined representatives of Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Monolith Materials, and Norris Public Power District for a joint announcement Monday regarding the facilitation of a significant addition to the renewable energy landscape in the state. The addition will provide significant short- and long-term value to Nebraska.
In order to facilitate Monolith Materials’ proposed $1 billion expansion of its Olive Creek facility (OC2) near Hallam, Nebraska, NPPD and Monolith have signed a letter-of-intent outlining the companies’ intentions to procure enough renewable energy resources to generate two million megawatt-hours annually.
NPPD President and CEO Tom Kent said NPPD will solicit bids for the project through a request for proposals (RFP) for new wind or solar generation, including energy storage, through a Power Purchase Agreement.
“The approximately two million megawatt-hours of generation would create a sufficient number of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to meet 100 percent of Monolith’s average annual energy usage and meet their environmental and sustainability goals,” Kent added. “While we are adding additional generation resources, NPPD will continue to maintain our highly competitive rates, which was one of the reasons Monolith moved its operations to Nebraska.” Kent noted that to reach that generation figure, the renewable resource projects could be comprised of wind, solar, or a mix of the two.
NPPD will be securing the generation resources which will be a large addition to the District’s renewable energy resources in the state. Power to the facility will be delivered by Norris Public Power District in Beatrice, a wholesale customer of NPPD.
“The relationship between NPPD and Norris enables Norris customers, like Monolith, to realize the benefits of public power, including competitive rates, reliable and resilient service and excellent customer service,” Norris General Manager and CEO Bruce Vitosh said. “Norris is willing to accommodate our customers to help them fulfill their power supply needs as the electric industry evolves. Norris is pleased that Monolith will achieve their environmental and sustainability goals.”
“Renewable electricity is the primary input to our proprietary process” said Rob Hanson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Monolith. “While affordability and reliability are key business considerations, the sustainability of our power supply is also a critical factor for Monolith. We use this renewable electricity to sustainably make essential products for the automotive and agriculture sectors. This means hundreds of good paying advanced manufacturing jobs right here in Nebraska – jobs you can build a family around.”
A $100 million investment that has created 50 jobs, Olive Creek 1 (OC1), Monolith’s first production facility, is already putting into practice the company’s focus on sustainability, utilizing renewable energy credits to offset 100% of its electricity needs. With this agreement, Monolith plans a mix of solar and wind generation resources along with battery energy storage to provide sufficient renewable power to offset its OC1 and OC2 operations in the future.
NPPD is expecting to enter into power purchase agreements by Sept. 1, 2021, with commercial operations expected to begin no later than Dec. 31, 2025. NPPD plans to issue the RFP in March 2021. A shortlist will be developed for further negotiations.
“This agreement paves the way for significant investment in the state. It sends a clear message that Nebraska remains open for business for companies looking to expand in a state with affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy resources, including renewable opportunities,” noted Governor Ricketts.
Columbus, Neb. – While 2020 has been a difficult year for all, retail and wholesale customers of Nebraska Public Power District have some good news ahead for 2021. During Thursday’s monthly meeting of the NPPD Board of Directors electric rates for 2021 will remain stable from 2020.
For the eighth consecutive year, NPPD retail customers will see no increase, on average, for the upcoming year effective this February. At the same time, wholesale customers (public power districts and municipalities) that purchase electricity from NPPD will see a fourth consecutive year with no base rate increase.
“As we all know, many Nebraskans have had to face some difficult economic times during this prolonged pandemic. Our team has worked hard at cost controls and increasing efficiencies in our operations to meet our obligation of providing affordable electricity to our customers.” said NPPD President and CEO Tom Kent. “While we have been able to achieve many of our goals, at no time have we impacted service, reliability, or jeopardized the safety of our employees and customers.”
And adding to no rate increases for 2021 on the wholesale side, rural public power districts and municipalities will see a production cost adjustment (PCA) credit providing a one-year average bill reduction of 10.2 percent below base rates for the next year, beginning in February and ending in January 2022. NPPD’s Board voted to return $73.2 million in rate stabilization funds back to its wholesale customers -- 46 municipalities and 24 rural public power districts and rural cooperative - - through the PCA.
NPPD will enter an eighth 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 continue to see a PCA credit on their monthly bill between February 2021 through January 2022, which results in an average bill reduction of approximately two to four percent below base rates 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,” Kent pointed out. “On the retail side, NPPD has kept its electric rates stable for end-use customers for seven years straight and 2021 will make it eight years.”
NPPD benchmarks its wholesale rate with roughly 800 members of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation’s (CFC) on a yearly basis. Several years ago, NPPD established a goal of being in CFC’s lowest quartile (below the 25 percentile mark) and was at the 29.5-percentile mark in the most recent benchmarking conducted in 2019. “We continue to be close and will work towards reaching that goal in the future,” Kent added.
Gothenburg, Neb. - Beginning Monday, Dec. 7, a portion of 27th Street in Gothenburg will be closed to traffic for approximately six weeks to allow for a replacement of an irrigation lateral.
The work is being done through a contractor for Nebraska Public Power District that will require 27th Street between Avenue J and Avenue L be closed while the lateral is replaced. The work will be done by Midland’s Contracting.
The existing pipe, used by NPPD to supply irrigation water as part of its water system, was in a condition that required replacement.