Omaha Public Power District customers are increasingly exploring their own generation. The end of June marked a milestone for OPPD on that front.
On June 28, 2021, OPPD received its 500th customer-owned generation (COG) interconnection application. This was the 165th application received so far this year, which is on track to be a 500% increase in interconnection applications over last year.
OPPD kicked off a multi-team project in 2019 to improve the COG application process using new, state-of-the-art online application software. The application software went live in April 2020 and, so far, more than 20 different solar installers have used the online application on behalf of mutual customers.
Without the new online application process, the volume the utility has seen this year would not have been possible.
Cross-collaboration was key in this one, and included stakeholders from across multiple business units. The project also included input from external stakeholders, including customers who installed solar systems, solar contractors and Nebraskans for Solar.
The utility is working to guide customers through the COG process.
“It can be confusing,” said Kirk Estee, Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager for OPPD, “especially with so many companies making proposals to customers interested in generating energy through solar panels or other technology.”
OPPD is educating the public about customer-owned generation, how it works and how to get started, Estee said.
The revamped and streamlined process of applying for customer-owned generation includes a quick-start guide and pay-off calculator so customers can determine how long it take for the solar system to pay for itself. There’s also information on how net metering works for billing.
“We do not currently have any partnerships with contractors, solar or otherwise, on this type of generation,” Estee said. “However, we do work with them on the back end. This ensures the generation integrates into our system properly and safely.”
While rooftop solar panels are still the most common form of customer-owned generation, more people are starting to use newer technology, such as batteries, to store the energy they’re generating.
OPPD must first review and approve all customer-owned generation systems before they interconnect with the electric grid. This is crucial so the utility can ensure the safety of its customers and employees. Customers should get multiple bids from different contractors prior to committing to a project.
Those interested in learning more should visit www.oppd.com/COG.
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