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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

The Wire

Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

Leading the Way

Initial solar contract inked for OPPD’s Power with Purpose

April 6, 2021 | Wire Staff | generation, public power, renewables
Aerial rendering of a proposed solar energy facility in Saunders County, April 2021. Credit: Community Energy

The future is growing brighter as OPPD takes its first steps to acquire up to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar generation.

OPPD recently signed a contract with Community Energy Inc. for an 81-megawatt solar array spread across approximately 500 leased acres south of Yutan, Nebraska, in eastern Saunders County. When complete, this facility will be capable of powering about 14,000 average homes.

The facility’s name: Platteview Solar.

Process & Portfolio

A highly competitive proposal process featured strict parameters supporting OPPD’s requirements and goals. The work with potential solar vendors for this and other proposed sites is happening alongside widespread outreach and engagement efforts with landowners, area officials and other stakeholders.

Pending approval, construction would begin in early 2022 and employ more than 150 people for up to a year. Long-term, up to three full-time employees would operate and maintain the site and Saunders County would receive around three decades of tax revenue with little to no effect on local services and infrastructure.

The county’s solar ordinance, adopted in February of this year, stipulates required setbacks and a plan for funded site decommissioning at the end of its useful life, which is approximately 30 years. Community Energy will adhere fully to these stipulations.

While details are forthcoming and portions of the process remain confidential for competitive and proprietary reasons, OPPD can share that the planned 81-megawatt installation will be one of several solar facilities supporting the district’s 13-county service territory. It will also further boost the district’s renewable energy portfolio (e.g., wind, hydro, landfill gas, solar) from its current 38.4 percent of retail sales (as of 2020).

Power with Purpose

This is the second announcement related to the utility’s Power with Purpose project. Last September, OPPD announced the locations of two backup natural gas generation facilities.

This strategy of placing power plants in multiple, dispersed locations supports the district’s efforts to maintain power reliability, system resiliency and affordable rates while fully honoring regulatory and environmental commitments.

Renewable energy sources are central to Power with Purpose project, which includes a commitment to the Board of Directors to add up to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar to OPPD’s fleet, along with modernized natural gas backup generation from the forthcoming Turtle Creek and Standing Bear Lake stations.

Listening and Adapting

The energy industry is changing rapidly, across the globe and here at home. There are exciting technological advancements, changes in load growth and power demand, and marked shifts in customer expectations. Informing, listening to and developing strong working relationships with stakeholders is all part of OPPD’s drive to find solutions that address everyone’s concerns and needs.

The first step is sharing comprehensive, reliable information whenever and wherever possible. In addition to OPPD’s in-person and virtual outreach efforts, the district recently launched a new online engagement platform, OPPD Community Connect.

Power with Purpose has its own home on that site, available here. It features background information, Frequently Asked Questions and a forum where anyone can ask a specific question not addressed in the FAQ.

OPPD is striving to be a net-zero carbon utility by 2050, and the commitment to renewable energy heralded by this announcement is one important step on that pathway to decarbonization.

 

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