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.
Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska has already got an early taste of winter and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) observes Winter Weather Preparedness Day on Thursday, November 5. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants its customers throughout the state to be aware of safety precautions when it comes to electricity and power outages during the winter months.
Winter storms with heavy amounts of snow, wind and ice can impact power lines in various ways and can cause unexpected outages. This can also result in weather conditions that are too dangerous for crews to work in.
“Our lineworkers are always prepared to deal with storms before they happen and will work around the clock to safely restore power,” says NPPD Corporate Safety Manager Brad Palu. “If a storm is too intense for crews to safely work in, they will wait for the storm to calm down and then begin working until power is restored."
“Most Nebraskans know the potential damage winter storms can cause, but if the power goes out we want our customers to take precautions and be safely prepared,” added Palu. NPPD encourages homeowners to assemble a few items including a flashlight, extra batteries, a portable radio, at least one gallon of water, and a small supply of food. It is also suggested that the refrigerator and freezer doors should be kept closed during an outage to keep food cold.
Some homeowners may have access to a generator that can be turned on in case of a power outage, but these should never be used indoors. “Using items such as a grill or generator indoors or in areas that are not well ventilated can be dangerous to those inside the house. If you have a generator, make sure it is installed properly by a licensed electrician,” advised Palu. “If an indoor fireplace is being used to stay warm during an outage, make sure the fireplace is properly maintained to avoid any dangers caused by poor ventilation or the fire spreading outside of the fireplace.”
If someone comes upon a power pole that has fallen or a downed power line, it is vital that they stay away from the area and notify their local public power utility of the damage. The ground around these areas could be charged with electricity and could be dangerous to anyone who approaches them.
For more information regarding power outage and winter safety tips, go to “Outages & Safety” located at https://nppd.com/outages-safety.
Columbus, Neb. – With over 320,000 customers in Oklahoma currently without electricity following an a wide-spread ice storm earlier this week, Nebraska Public Power District will be sending a crew of line technicians to provide mutual aid assistance.
Two supervisors and 12 line technicians will leave Friday morning from NPPD’s York Operations Center with necessary vehicles and equipment to provide mutual aid in power restoration. Crews will be working to assist Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which has a reported 246,000 customers without electricity as of Thursday morning.
Line technicians responding will be from NPPD operations in Ainsworth, Ogallala, Scottsbluff, Kearney, O’Neill, Norfolk, Plattsmouth, Atkinson, Humboldt, and Rushville.
NPPD is a member of the Midwest Mutual Aid Group that coordinates power restoration support from various utilities following power outages created by hurricanes, tornadoes, ice and snowstorms, and other natural disasters.
Columbus, Neb. - Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) has been made aware of scammers targeting electric customers in areas across the state.
Reports from customers indicate that the scammers are calling customers and will tell them they need to make a payment for a meter replacement or threaten to disconnect the customer if they do not make an immediate payment over the phone. Scammers will ask for customers to provide a payment method such as a wire transfer, gift cards or pre-paid debit cards such as a Green Dot card.
NPPD does not call to ask customers for a credit card number or demand payment with a pre-paid card, and any customer receiving this type of call should not make a payment over the phone. If a customer receives a call from someone claiming to be from NPPD and feels pressured for immediate payment or personal information, they should hang up the phone and call NPPD’s Customer Contact Center at 1-877-ASK-NPPD.
Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) has recently reported similar scam activity affecting customers in their service territory. Go to https://www.nppd.com/accounts-billing/scams for more information concerning billing scams.
Columbus. Neb. – On Thursday, Oct. 8, Nebraska Public Power (NPPD) joins the nation in celebrating the sixth annual National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, which marks the growth of the industry by raising awareness of the benefits fuel cells and hydrogen technologies provide in generating reliable and resilient power, while increasing America’s energy, environmental, and economic security.
National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day is observed on Oct. 8 (10.08), in recognition of the atomic weight of hydrogen - 1.008. Efficient, clean, and quiet, fuel cells generate electricity through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, without combustion.
“NPPD is proud to join with other innovative companies celebrating National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day,” said John Swanson, Director, Generation Strategies & Research for NPPD.
“Today the hydrogen and fuel cell industries are making its mark on America’s energy landscape. Additionally, the significant international focus today on a new hydrogen economy has impacted our way of thinking the application of hydrogen’s use for highways, in factories, and energy production,” Swanson commented. “The continued growth of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies promotes America’s energy, environmental, and economic security as we work towards low and zero carbon national goals.
For more information on National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, please visit www.hydrogenandfuelcellday.org.
Columbus, Neb. - While many Nebraskans are dusting off their fall clothes in preparation for the cool autumn weather, farmers are headed to their fields to begin the annual harvest. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to remind large equipment operators to keep safety front of mind and “Look up and Look Out” for power lines as they head back to the fields.
NPPD Vice-President of Energy Delivery Art Wiese says coming close to, or hitting, power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season. “It’s easy for an equipment operator to accidentally get a piece of equipment too close to a powerline or even make contact if they are not aware of their surroundings,” noted Wiese. “If large equipment gets too close to a power line, electricity can arc from the line to the equipment, potentially causing major damage and severe injury to the operator.”
NPPD encourages equipment operators to keep their machines 20 feet away from power lines to avoid the possibility of any electricity arcing from the line to the equipment.
If a power line falls onto a vehicle or piece of equipment, anyone inside the vehicle should remain there until help can arrive and deenergize the power line. When a powerline is touching a vehicle or lying on the ground, it can electrify both the vehicle and the ground in the surrounding area. If a fire forces you to exit the vehicle then do so by jumping away from the vehicle, landing on two feet and shuffling as far away from the area as possible.
“If a power line is touching a vehicle, anyone inside the vehicle should avoid touching both the ground and the vehicle at the same time. If someone were to do this, it could result in serious or fatal injuries,” NPPD Transmission and Distribution Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz said. “Taking the precautionary effort to look up and look out for powerlines can promote a safe work environment, and our hope is that everyone working this harvest season can do so in a safe manner.”
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?edufilter=NULL&v=Hfikot58Fkk
Columbus, Neb. - Nebraska Public Power District has contracted Forbes Brothers Timberline Construction Inc., of Rapid City, S.D. to refurbish a 115-kV transmission line in Southwest Nebraska.
The line is located between NPPD’s Beverly substation and the Enders substation in Southwest Public Power District’s service area. Southwest PPD is an NPPD wholesale customer headquartered in Palisade, which serves five counties—Chase, Dundy, Hayes, Hitchcock and Red Willow.
During the refurbishment, 78 structures and all shield wire will be replaced. The line is scheduled to be out of service beginning the end of September through mid-March of next year. No end use customers will be impacted.
“This project will improve transmission line reliability,” stated NPPD Transmission and Distribution Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz. “Most of the structures being replaced were put in when the line was originally built and are reaching the end of their life expectancy.”
Residents can expect to see utility service trucks and workers in the area during the refurbishment time frame and should be aware of an increase in the number of large vehicles and equipment moving through the area in support of the planned work.
Columbus, Neb. - Safety around powerlines should always be front of mind when operating large farm equipment, and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Nebraska Extension and UNMC Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) are partnering together to spread awareness about potential dangers as harvest season approaches.
NPPD, Nebraska Extension and CS-CASH will be hosting events at multiple locations across the state which will feature a “Look Up and Look Out” custom combine and an ATV and grain bin entry safety simulator. First responders will be on hand to provide education on how to exit machinery safely in case of contact with a downed power line or pole structure.
“We want to make sure farmers and equipment operators who are working around power lines know what precautions need to be taken in order to perform their work safely,” says NPPD Transmission and Distribution Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz. “If a piece of equipment gets too close to a powerline or makes contact with a line it can result in serious or fatal injuries, and our main concern is that people are able to go home safe at the end of the workday. Hopefully these events will help remind people to keep a focus on safety.”
The scheduled events will provide lunch to attendees and will take place at the following locations:
All the events are scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be marked with identifying banners for exact location. The events will also be supported by local public power districts that serve the surrounding area. Events in Norfolk and Kearney will include live line safety demos
“Nebraska Extension and CS-CASH continue to be valuable health and safety resources for our ag producers around the state, and we are excited to partner with NPPD to promote harvest safety as the season gets underway with more equipment heading out into the field,” says Nebraska Extension Educator, Susan Harris.
The events are open to the public and will all be held outdoors to encourage social distancing. Attendees are encouraged to wear masks at the event, where CDC guidelines will be in place.
Norfolk, Neb. – The sun is shining on the City of Norfolk as it will be the latest Nebraska municipality to become part of Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) SunWise Community Solar program. There will be an added aspect of the project for NPPD with the installation of a battery energy storage system (BESS) that will be tied to the solar array as a demonstration project.
NPPD plans to enter into a 30-year agreement with N Solar for an 8.5 megawatt solar unit to be constructed on land at the city’s well field. The expectation is installation of the solar panels will begin in 2021 with operations beginning by the end of 2021. “We are pleased to be adding Norfolk as one of our Community Solar program,” said NPPD Vice-President and General Manager-Retail Tim Arlt. “The interest in solar energy continues to grow and we have interest from other NPPD retail communities and we anticipate adding more units in the future.”
Norfolk is the fourth Nebraska community to be part of the program that currently includes Venango, Scottsbluff (two units) and Kearney.
“We’re anxious to move forward on this first-of-its-kind project in Nebraska,” said Mayor Josh Moenning. “Building the largest community solar project in the state, and the first tied to a battery storage system, further positions Norfolk to be a leader in clean, cost-competitive renewable energy that will boosts and support the local economy.”
In partnership with the city, NPPD will host an open house for Norfolk customers to learn about the SunWise Community Solar program that currently operates in three locations, answer questions, and work with customers interested in purchasing solar energy.
N Solar, a three-company partnership that includes Messner Development, Gen Pro Energy Solutions and Sol Systems, will have a lease agreement with the City of Norfolk for the land where the solar panels will be installed. Eventually the well field site will have over 25,000 solar panels in place to generate electricity from the sun. Collectively, the three N Solar companies have been involved in a combined 20 solar projects across Nebraska, including three of the four NPPD SunWise Community Solar projects.
“Norfolk is a wonderful community and we are grateful for the opportunity to build on our relationship with NPPD through this project,” said Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company. “Having delivered their first community solar project, we are now excited to help bring the first energy storage installation to NPPD’s growing portfolio.”
The BESS will be charged through generation provided by the solar unit and can be discharged daily to accomplish several goals. The BESS unit will store approximately the amount of electricity that a small home would use over the course of two months.
NPPD, with support from the city of Norfolk, received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) in the amount of $490,000 over two years for the BESS project. Norfolk committed to participate in the funding request as a grant partner and is providing the real estate for the project site, weekly inspections and guided public tours.
“Battery energy storage is a versatile resource,” said NPPD Renewable Energy Consultant Ron Rose. “It has the ability to adapt technologies, applications, and business models to utility needs.”
This first of its kind in Nebraska demonstration project is a one-megawatt (MW), two megawatt hour (MWh) utility scale, proven technology. The BESS will be charged and discharged daily to accomplish many separate goals for NPPD such as demand management, frequency regulation, voltage support, and smoothing and shifting variable renewable energy generation. “With the knowledge gained from this project, it will be reproducible for other Nebraska electrical utilities, assuming future price reductions and increasing battery performance,” Rose explained.
With the BESS connected to a variable non-dispatchable renewable energy source such as wind or solar, the renewable generation now becomes dispatchable and will reduce fossil fuel generation in the future. This project was not economical for NPPD to fund in total but became possible with the Nebraska Environmental Trust grant sharing the battery costs.
NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program has an existing facility in Kearney that has been in operation for nearly two years, generating 5.7 megawatts of energy through photovoltaic panels. In the past year a 4.375 megawatt unit was installed in Scottsbluff. Smaller solar arrays in the program are located in Scottsbluff (128 kilowatts) and Venango (98 kilowatts).
N Solar is a three-company partnership designed to provide every Nebraska community with the opportunity for clean energy integrated with local public power districts and municipal utilities. N Solar comprises Nebraska’s Mesner Development in partnership with GenPro Energy Solutions in site development and construction, and Sol Systems in financing, ownership, and power purchase agreements. To date, this team has developed, constructed and financed over 19 megawatts of solar in Nebraska.
Auburn, Neb. - Cooper Nuclear Station will begin a refueling outage September 26, which is conducted every two years and requires additional contract staffing to complete the work.
In preparation of this evolution, contract personnel will soon be arriving in Auburn for in-processing. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Nebraska Public Power District, in coordination with Auburn Family Health Clinic, will be hosting drive-thru testing for Covid-19 for all incoming contractor personnel during the last two weeks of August and all of September 2020.
Testing will be conducted at the Sheridan Training Facility in Auburn, on the north end of the campus. This testing is for NPPD/CNS outage-support only, and care has been taken to reduce traffic congestion on 11th street as the station prepares for this project.
Any questions on this process should be directed to Bill Chapin at 402-825-2817.
Columbus, Neb. - The 29th Wells Fargo Nebraska Open, set for Sept. 11-13 at Elks Country Club in Columbus, will have a completely different look this year. The usual kickoff event, that starts on Thursday as a Pro-Am coordinated by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), will not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Open itself will have a distinct Nebraska flavor.
“With the recent COVID-19 surges and various travel restrictions made across the country, the tournament will be restricted to all Nebraska PGA Professionals, amateurs, and non-PGA Professionals. These players must currently reside within the geographic boundaries of the Nebraska Section PGA to be eligible to compete. Any player that does not currently reside within the boundaries during the dates of the Wells Fargo Nebraska Open will not be eligible to compete,” said David Honnens, CEO of the Nebraska Section PGA. The Pro-Am event traditionally held the day before the 54-hole tournament, pairing tournament sponsors and professionals, will not be held.
“With the pandemic situation facing the country, it was decided that the pro-am portion of the Nebraska Open would not be held this year for the safety of all those who planned to participate,” said Nebraska Open Event Organizer and NPPD Communication Specialist Christy Avery. Since 1991, more than $1.6 million has been given through scholarships to students who attend one of the five community colleges in Nebraska. “Now more than ever, these scholarships are essential to help these aspiring scholars fulfill their dreams of obtaining a college degree,” added Central Community College Foundation Executive Director Dean Moors.
The Nebraska Open will start its annual run on Friday, Sept. 11 with a field of Nebraska players being limited to no more than 132 golfers. “We understand that this year’s tournament will look quite different than in years past but with tremendous talent we have in Nebraska I am excited to see this event unfold,” Honnens commented. “Most importantly, I am thrilled that we will continue to provide scholarships for the five community colleges in Nebraska.” Registration for the tournament can be done at nebraskapga.com The deadline to register is Friday, Sept. 4.
The Wells Fargo Nebraska Open is endorsed and operated by the Nebraska Section of the PGA and coordinated by Nebraska Public Power District. Its proceeds are donated to the Nebraska Community College Foundation, which awards scholarships to hundreds of needy Nebraska students attending five community colleges in the state. These colleges include Central Community College, Southeast Community College; Northeast Community College, Norfolk; Mid-Plains Community College, and Western Nebraska Community College. For more information on the tournament, including a list of all participants, tee times and past results, please visit nebraskapga.com.