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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


OPPD board approves budget for 2023

December 15, 2022 | Grant Schulte | customer service, rates
rising fuel costs

OPPD’s board of directors approved a new, $1.9 billion budget on Thursday that will hold general rates steady for customers but increase the Fuel and Purchased Power Adjustment (FPPA), a line item on bills. That line item covers rising fuel and purchased power costs that are beyond the utility’s control.

The Corporate Operating Plan for 2023 supports OPPD’s mission to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally sensitive power in its fast-growing service district.

The line-item increase for customers is below the rate of inflation within the energy sector, which hit 13.1% year-over-year in November. Nationally, overall inflation has averaged 7.1%. Higher prices created a challenge for OPPD officials, who worked to minimize the impact.

The adjustment approved by the board will raise customers’ total bills by an average of 2.9% starting in January, although the exact amount would vary based on energy usage. The FPPA updates annually.

“We don’t take this lightly,” said Jeff Bishop, vice president of the Financial Services Business Unit. “We know that even small monthly increases can be challenging for our customers.”

Utilities nationwide are facing rising fuel costs, particularly for natural gas, and seeing increases in their purchased power expenses. Costs are expected to continue increasing into 2023, prompting OPPD’s line-item increase.

Customers can control impact

The structure of the adjustment gives customers a way to control its impact. Because the line item is calculated based on energy consumption, customers who reduce their energy usage or increase their energy efficiency will pay less of an increase than they otherwise would have. OPPD has strategies and tools to help, including how-to videos. The utility also offers a variety of assistance programs for customers struggling to pay their bills.

The average OPPD bill is $110.62 per month, which includes a FPPA charge of $1.73. Under the new plan, that charge will be $4.47 on average starting Jan. 1.

Increases are expected to vary by customer type. Residential property would see an average 2.5% increase, while commercial and industrial customers would see average increases of 3.4% and 4.4%, respectively.

Other utilities have raised both their general rates and adopted larger increases to their FPPA charge.

OPPD’s new budget also reflects the district’s substantial load growth, with key investments in new generation facilities, transmission and distribution to serve more people and businesses.

Among those initiatives is the Power with Purpose project. The project will add up to 600 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar and up to 600 MW of natural gas balancing generation. The Corporate Operating Plan also includes investments in Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI is a two-way communication system to help improve outage reporting and OPPD’s response to outages, among other benefits.

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About Grant Schulte

Grant Schulte joined OPPD as a content generalist in 2022. He is a former reporter for The Associated Press, where he covered the Nebraska Legislature, state politics and other news for a global audience. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a proud Hawkeye. In his free time he enjoys running, reading, spending time with his wife, and all things aviation.

View all posts by Grant Schulte >

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