The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

How Does That Work?

OPPD plants ready for winter challenges

December 29, 2021 | Jason Kuiper | generation, weather
generating stations winter weather nebraska city

With our first snowfall behind us, winter has arrived. At OPPD, crews at the generating stations began preparing earlier this year to ensure that plants are ready to run through the coldest months.

Each year, OPPD’s plant personnel take special measures to make sure the baseload plants and peaking stations are ready for whatever winter throws at us. Think of it like car maintenance, but on a much grander scale.

GEN_Winter Ready Plants 2021 vertical
Jessie Chandler works on a control box at Sarpy County Station. Photo by Cody Karre

“We need to ensure our systems are in their proper configurations and our fuel supplies are at adequate levels,” said Ryan Gerdts, manager of Station Operations at Nebraska City Station (NCS). “This requires support from many of the groups at all the generating facilities and from the Fuels department.”

Scheduled maintenance

Like all utilities, OPPD’s generating stations and peaking plants are on a maintenance schedule. Crews can do smaller jobs and routine maintenance while the plants are online and producing power. For bigger projects, the plants use maintenance outages, where they are taken offline for updates. These typically occur when demand for electricity isn’t as high.

Among some of the improvements and maintenance made since last winter:

  • Upgrades to the lube oil coolers at Sarpy County Station (SCS)
  • Improved heat tracing at (SCS)
  • Improved steam coil preheat venting on Nebraska City Station Unit 2
  • Increased fuel oil supplies at peaking units
  • Rebuilding coal stockpiles before freezing conditions
  • Improvements to fuel oil delivery processes

Last year’s polar vortex illustrated just how important it was for the plants to be able to respond to all conditions.

“It is hugely important to maintain a reliable electrical supply for our customer-owners, that is paramount,” said Mike Ferm Director of Operations at OPPD. “We have to do our part not just for our customers, but for the Southwest Power Pool as well.”

Author Image

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.

View all posts by Jason Kuiper >

Leave a Comment

Category

How Does That Work?

Insights

Leading the Way

Powerful Life

Profiles

Working for You