The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


The ‘Doc’ is in

May 15, 2017 | Jodi Baker | OPPD at work, OPPD employees
Derek Peckenpaugh

Derek Peckenpaugh works in OPPD’s Business Technology Unit, an ever-evolving area that requires constant attention. When your assets, data and other technology are important in delivering electricity to nearly 370,000 customers, you can’t afford to let up.

“What we do helps to keep OPPD resources available when needed,” he said. “The more reliable we are in what we do, the better position OPPD is in to fulfill its mission and vision.”

keeping systems healthy

Peckenpaugh, or “Doc” as he’s known around OPPD, has been with the company for 15 years now. “I answer to both names, and I’ve answered to worse,” he joked.

His smarts are no joke, but the nickname actually comes from his first and middle initials, “D” for Derek and “R,” for Roger. He’s received mail addressed to “Dr. Peckenpaugh” on more than one occasion.

In his role, he helps keep OPPD systems healthy – managing virtual private network (VPN) solutions and helping out with smart grid as well as handling emerging issues and consulting with internal and external business partners. He previously helped represent OPPD in the North American Electric Reliability (NERC) organization as well as with Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance.

That all sounds pretty important, and it is. But what does a typical day look like for Peckenpaugh?

typical day

“We start the day discussing any emergency issues, outages or other circumstances that may affect district operations,” he said, “as well as any planned configuration changes, which could impact employees.”

He said individual teams also examine project requests and any notable events that may impact employees and customers.

“My day is often a mix of project work and emergent requests,” he said. “The projects in place to maintain or enhance our systems demand careful planning and execution, so we devote a lot of time to that.”

His area also collaborates with other Business Technology (BT) teams and internal business partners to develop policies for working within the company and from outside, via virtual private network (VPN), to ensure safe and secure access to work materials.

The road to OPPD wasn’t exactly a straight line. “It was a bit of a roundabout path,” Peckenpaugh said.

path to oppd

His degree is in journalism. His work prior to information and business technology was in sales.

“I was selling Yellow Pages at US West,” he said. A project there involved building an electronic sales tool. “But nobody in US West’s IT department had any sales experience to rely on when building this tool. So they were looking for someone to join them in testing.

“I was fairly proficient at the few computer systems they did use back then, and was asked to join the project,” he said.

He spent the rest of his time with the company testing that project, eventually moving on to another company to do automated software testing. He developed an impressive amount of knowledge through real-world, on-the-job training. And it has served him well.

“From there, I came to OPPD, eventually moving into information technology and now, with the network team,” he said.

Outside of work, Peckenpaugh is an avid golfer and a big baseball fan, too. He coached Little League for a number of years and helped run a select baseball program for a while.

Family, he said, is extremely important. “I value my friendships as well. Both those I’ve maintained for a long time, and the new friends I’ve made here at work.”

And Peckenpaugh is extremely valued at OPPD, as well, for his knowledge and expertise. He’s a true team player whose contributions help keep the utility strong for its employees and customer-owners.

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker contributes stories to The Wire in addition to serving as a media liaison for OPPD. She was a reporter, working for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to San Diego, prior to joining the utility in 2013. Jodi has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, with a minor in Criminal Justice. She’s married with two older children and two younger dogs – Shi Tzu mixes. She loves watching her daughter’s track meets, going to concerts with her husband Dave, who used to co-host a local music video program, and traveling whenever possible.

View all posts by Jodi Baker >

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