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New Sarpy substation worthy of big “like”

July 23, 2018 | Jason Kuiper | commercial and industrial, customers, economic development, T&D
substation Facebook OPPD

The substation upgrade that will feed Facebook’s data center in Sarpy County was finished this spring and energized in July.

The work, done ahead of schedule, was standard as far as expansions of this kind.

Shawn Smith, Substation crew leader, said it was a large project that involved many different departments.

“This wasn’t the biggest expansion we’ve done, but there was a lot of equipment and a lot of material added,” Smith said. “It was a big expansion for us in a short amount of time.”

The crews perform remodels and expansions. They also build new substations, but OPPD doesn’t add a new substation every year.

In March 2017, Facebook announced they were building a data center in Sarpy County to support their operations. One year later, Facebook announced the data center would now consist of six buildings instead of two.

Substations help route electricity and transform it into useable voltages through OPPD’s distribution system, or they can step up voltage to travel long distances across the utility’s transmission system. In all, OPPD has about 130 substations serving its 369,000 customers.

T&D_Facebook substation_wide

“There was some concern over getting it done in time, but the crews were able to do so early and they did a great job,” said Lee O’Neal, manager Substation & System Protection.

The facility is a newer one. OPPD finished it in 2014. The substation is now twice its original physical size, said Matt Eibes, manager of Substation Engineering.

“This was a very significant overhaul in terms of design,” Eibes said. “We added 11 new breakers and other modifications to support not only Facebook, but other future development.”

Eibes said the sub is now ready to expand further, if needed.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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