The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


OPPD’s Ideas magazine

January 7, 2019 | Paula Lukowski | flashback, history
Ideas magazine

Utility costs typically account for a large portion of a business’s operating budget.

Lighting, heating and cooling, operating equipment and machinery, and the list goes on. As a public power utility, OPPD has always partnered with its commercial customers going back to its beginning in 1946.

This is the cover of an Ideas magazine cover from 1949.
An Ideas magazine cover from 1949.

That’s the year Ideas magazine came to be. Its purpose was to feature customers who were using electricity in new ways, often with help from OPPD experts. Only minor adjustments were made to the magazine’s mission over its 66-year run.

The magazine’s target audience was business customers up until the last issue in spring 2012. However, as the economy grew and diversified over the decades, the scope shifted from primarily office, retail and midsize commercial customers to mid- to large-size commercial and industrial customers. The magazine also served as a good economic development tool for the area.

The Ideas tagline went from “greater profits electrically” in the 1940s, to “ideas for greater benefits electrically” in the 1950s, to “ideas for better energy management” in the late 1970s.

Lighting and electric cooking articles dominated the topics during the early years. Many photos featured brightly lit displays at places such as Landon’s, Goldstein Chapman’s, Brandeis and Wormser Hat Store.

topics of the times

A July 1947 article featured the award-winning remodeling of Wranic Brothers’ Paxton Billiards at 15th and Douglas streets. The fluorescent lighting, one of the first such applications in a billiard parlor in the country, “gave brilliant, yet uniform and glare-free illumination to the tables.”

During the 1970s and 1980s, energy management issues became popular, fueled largely by the nation's energy crisis. A 1978 issue focused entirely on load-limiting, a concept that encouraged customers to defer some energy use to off-peak hours.During the 1970s and 1980s, energy management issues became popular, fueled largely by the nation’s energy crisis. A 1978 issue focused entirely on load-limiting, a concept that encouraged customers to defer some energy use to off-peak hours. During the 1990s and 2000s, electric technologies such as geothermal applications and fuel cells were common topics.

Over the years, many customers were repeatedly featured Ideas articles.

A 1958 cover story featured Mutual of Omaha’s new dining room, high atop its new addition. It was serviced by a kitchen “as modern as a moon-bound spaceship.” In the fall of 2004, Mutual of Omaha was featured again, this time because of its heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems that were “a model of energy efficiency.”

The spring 1972 issue featured the “landmark lighting” in the 3-year-old Woodmen Tower. The fall 1989 cover again features the tower, this time for the 40, 1,500-watt metal halide fixtures that illuminate the building at night.


A wide range of other stories made the pages, too. Among the headlines:

  • A healthy approach to energy savings. How the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, developed an energy-efficient campus worthy of national notoriety (Spring 2012)
  • Practicing what they teach. How Omaha Public Schools took extra measures when it came to energy management in its schools, which served more than 49,000 students (Summer 2011)
  • When electricity and water do mix. How the new Metropolitan Utility District treatment plant – with a 100 million-gallon-per-day pumping capacity – used innovative water recycling techniques, wireless technology and more (Winter 2007)
  • On the road with OPPD. How OPPD worked with the city of Omaha and other utilities to expedite the West Dodge expressway (Winter 2004)
The cover of the Ideas magazine about OPPD's role in the West Dodge expressway.
The cover of the Ideas magazine about OPPD’s role in the West Dodge expressway.
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About Paula Lukowski

Paula Lukowski has more than 34 years of corporate communications experience. By far, her favorite aspect of that role has been profiling the great work done by OPPD employees and retirees. Paula and her husband, Mark, have two grown children, Rachel and John, a son-in-law, Josh, and two grandsons.

View all posts by Paula Lukowski >

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