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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


New Sarpy substation serves dual purpose

April 5, 2022 | Jason Kuiper | generation, T&D
Sarpy substation power with purpose

Work is progressing on a new substation for OPPD customers in Sarpy County.

The new substation will serve growth in that area as well as support the Turtle Creek Station gas facility being built, said Jon Benson, lead engineer and acting manager of Substation Engineering. Underground work and concrete foundation work at the substation site is done; overhead infrastructure work will follow.

Power with Purpose

The new substation is expected to be ready for service later this summer. Teddy Hutchinson, an OPPD Utility Operations project manager, said it will have two 161kV transmission lines that will connect to the Turtle Creek Station. Turtle Creek, near South 168th Street and Fairview Road, will be a 450-megawatt (MW) facility. It is under construction in Sarpy County as part of OPPD’s Power with Purpose project. The substation will also connect the station to the power grid.

Turtle Creek, along with Standing Bear Lake Station, a 150-megawatt (MW) facility to be built in Douglas County, will help provide extra power as needed, usually when peak load is highest. They will help supplement an expected 400 to 600 MW of utility-scale solar. They’re expected to run less than 15% of the time.

That solar and gas generation capacity supports OPPD’s reliability and resiliency as communities grow. The project is a significant step in putting OPPD on track to meet its goal of net-zero carbon production by 2050.

T&D_Sarpy sub 2022 secondary
In all, OPPD has about 130  substations serving its 390,000 customers. This is the new substation in Sarpy County. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

Residents living around the new gas facility near South 168th Street and Fairview Road will start seeing more activity in that area; grading is nearly complete and materials are starting to be arrive at a staging area in the area.

Routing and transforming

Substations aid in routing electricity and transforming it into useable voltages through OPPD’s distribution system. Substations can also step up voltage to travel long distances across the utility’s transmission system. In all, OPPD has about 130 substations serving its 390,000 customers.

Their protection and control relays act like a brain, collecting stimuli from the grid and sharing it with OPPD’s Energy Control Center. If the relays detect a problem, such as a short-circuit or overload, they automatically engage the substation’s breakers. The breakers act like muscles that interrupt the flow of electricity to isolate the problem.

Powering growth

In the last few years, OPPD has averaged adding about one substation annually thanks to increasing growth and energy needs. OPPD can also add distribution transformers to existing substations to help with load growth in cases where an entirely new substation is not necessary.

The most common reasons for such additions are housing development growth and economic development. OPPD must ensure it has more than ample energy to power all of the utility’s customers – both current and future.

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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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