OPPD’s board of directors on Thursday approved a recommendation to extend current operations at North Omaha Station by three years, due largely to national delays in the generation interconnection process for the utility’s two new natural gas generating plants.
These delays are impacting how soon the utility will be able to bring the two natural gas plants online as part of the Power with Purpose project.
Through Power with Purpose, OPPD is pursuing the addition of up to 600 megawatts of solar generation, backed up by 600 MW from modern natural gas plants.
In June, OPPD management recommended that the retirement of Units 1, 2, and 3 at North Omaha Station (NOS) and refueling of Units 4 and 5 from coal to natural gas be delayed until the company’s new power stations are ready and approved for use at full capacity. The delay will help maintain system reliability for OPPD’s customer owners.
The high demand nationally for generation interconnection studies, which are required when a utility brings on a new power source, has created a major study backlog. That has impacted the certainty around timing and the ability to get interim or full interconnection service for the gas plants.
In addition, Standing Bear Lake and Turtle Creek stations, the two new natural gas generation projects, have experienced some siting and grading delays, as well as supply chain issues.
The process of implementing large-scale solar generation for Power with Purpose also has been slowed, with project siting issues and supply chain challenges, including impacts from the federal focus on solar panel imports.
And just like every business and industry across the country and world, OPPD is facing unforeseen challenges related to supply chain issues and labor shortages. OPPD, like so many other utilities, continues working on solutions to mitigate the various global supply issues.
Originally, the NOS plan called for the three oldest units to be taken out of service or “retired” after 2023, and for Units 4 and 5 to be refueled to natural gas. Those three units went into service in 1954, 1957 and 1959. By delaying the retirement or refueling of NOS units, OPPD remains committed to providing customers with reliable and resilient energy. As the region continues to grow, so does the need for energy, and OPPD must support this growth by ensuring that reliable power will continue to be available to all of its customers.
“Our commitment to decarbonization remains unchanged, but we must also make sure we are providing the reliable and resilient power our customers and our region needs,” said Brad Underwood, vice president of Systems Transformation.
“We see this decision as clearly the best option for our utility and our customer-owners,” said Javier Fernandez, OPPD President and CEO. “We remain committed to achieving net-zero carbon production by 2050. Our 2021 carbon emissions were already lower by 4.5 million tons than our peak in 2013, and we are working to safely continue those reductions as we move forward.”
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