OPPD will host the first of six public workshops for its Pathways to Decarbonization initiative this month. The work of the project will help the utility reach its goal of net zero carbon production by 2050.
Jeremy Bowers, program manager for the initiative, said OPPD recognizes that “we need to be leaders in this broad community and industry issue.”
“This initiative is largely a planning effort,” said Bowers. “This a thoughtful look at our transforming industry and our role in it.”
Pathways to Decarbonization will identify pathways for carbon reduction. It will be OPPD’s roadmap towards getting to that stated goal and focuses on four areas.
Each area has its own team working to develop long-term strategies. The work of the cross-functional team will create pathways towards the goal flexible enough to adapt to improvements in technology.
Those four focus areas will look at:
Internal operations – examining greenhouse gas emissions from district buildings, vehicles and equipment as well as personnel and supply chain sources.
Customers –reducing customer environmental footprint by reviewing current and future product offerings.
Community – studying how OPPD can advocate for, and share knowledge with, area residents to reduce carbon impacts in their communities.
Energy portfolio – Exploring OPPD’s current energy sources and future opportunities. Understanding technical feasibility and reliability of a variety of energy sources and technologies that preserve OPPD’s system, keep our rates cost-competitive and minimize environmental impacts. This work also supports the utility’s Integrated Resource Planning efforts, which will be ongoing throughout 2021.
Bowers said he and the many others working on Pathways are passionate about finding the right mix of solutions. He called the work necessary as our region continues evolving, meaning the power OPPD provides needs to do the same.
“These are forward-thinking energy solutions that will keep powering the growth of our communities,” he said. “Big ideas start with small changes that keep building. We need long-term solutions so we can continue meeting the needs of the region with the right mix of energy.”
The Pathways work supports OPPD’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which is due in early 2022.
As OPPD moves forward with Pathways to Decarbonization, the utility will seek input from the community through a variety of channels, including workshops for the energy portfolio. The first of these of online workshops will be Wednesday, April 7. Such online engagement is an especially important component due to ongoing restrictions around COVID-19.
Customers can engage with OPPD through OPPD Community Connect, the utility’s stakeholder engagement platform that hosts up-to-date information, details about the workshops, workshop recordings and ways to submit ideas or ask questions around the initiative. The community can engage with each other and share each other’s ideas and comments. Also, the workshops will be recorded and made available online for those who cannot make it and still wish to provide input.
“Like past outreach efforts that involved impactful projects at OPPD, we are looking forward to finding the right pathways with help from our customers,” said Sarah Lake, community engagement coordinator.
The work is expected to end with a number of deliverables, including a comprehensive study of our generation fleet presented to the board of directors by the end of 2021.
“We know we need to be leaders in our community,” Bowers said. “By taking this on, we are able to be purposeful with all three parts of our mission – affordability, reliability and environmental sensitivity. This is our effort to safeguard and protect that in our changing industry.”
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