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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


OPPD rallied in response to underground fire

February 4, 2019 | Jason Kuiper | flashback, history
underground fire

OPPD’s electrical system is one of the most reliable in the country. Thanks to a redundant underground network, downtown Omaha, including the historic Old Market area, seldom loses power.

An explosion and fire near 17th and Howard streets on the night of Jan. 27, 2013 left about 2,000 customers in the area without power. Even Energy Plaza, OPPD’s downtown headquarters, was without power.

The March/April issue of Flash featured the restoration work done after the downtown underground fire.

The problem turned into a moment for the utility’s underground cable splicers, Customer Care Services representatives and others to shine.

Within hours, OPPD crews had restored service to all but a small group of customers. For those roughly 100 customers, restoring service would be more problematic. Crews worked around the clock on the restoration.

Where the fire damaged equipment, underground repairs and splices were made. OPPD’s headquarters, Energy Plaza, was without power the next day. The utility  implemented its own contingency plans, including some employees working remotely. Customer Care Services representatives relocated to a trailer at the OPPD’s Elkhorn Service Center in west Omaha. From that location, there took customer calls.

“Everybody rose to the challenge,” said Nitty Gambhir, supervisor Customer Care Services, at the time in an OPPD Flash magazine article. “There were a lot of unknowns, but we adjusted as we went along. The representatives were awesome and handled everything with professionalism and positive attitudes.”

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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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