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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Plant expansions will add 900 MW of new generation amid surging demand

February 13, 2024 | Jodi Baker | generation
OPPD is adding 900 megawatts of simple cycle natural gas generation with dual fuel oil backup. The new assets will be split between Cass County Station and Turtle Creek Station, which is under construction.
OPPD is adding 900 megawatts of new generation split between Cass County Station and Turtle Creek Station, above. Turtle Creek is under construction and scheduled to come online this year. Photo courtesy of Zachry Group

Omaha Public Power District has been working on plans to add a total of 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of power to its generation portfolio amid unprecedented growth in electricity usage. And during committee meetings Tuesday for its board of directors, the utility announced the latest step toward that goal.

“We are adding 900 megawatts (MW) of simple cycle natural gas generation with dual fuel oil backup. The new assets will be split between our existing Cass County Station and our Turtle Creek Station, which is currently under construction in Sarpy County,” said OPPD Vice President of Systems Transformation Brad Underwood.

OPPD chose Siemens Energy to provide the new assets, including four SGT6-5000F combustion turbines, capable of producing 225 MW each. Three would be built at OPPD’s existing Cass County Station. One would be built at Turtle Creek, where the plant’s two original turbines are scheduled to come online later this year. These new units feature fast start-up capability, operational flexibility are dual-fuel capable for enhanced reliability. They are expected to be online by 2030.

“These engines are part of the larger system expansion our community is demanding – from more high voltage transmission to more generators, including the Platteview Solar facility in Saunders County and our Standing Bear Lake Station in Douglas County, which will come online in 2024. That doesn’t include the potential K Junction facility and other generation pursuits we have underway. The totality of all of it is truly amazing,” Underwood said.

Planning for continued growth

OPPD anticipates its load will grow by 100 MW each year for the foreseeable future. That’s equivalent to energy used by 65 metro-area high schools or medium-size hospitals. OPPD is the third fastest growing utility in the Southwest Power Pool’s 14-state footprint.

As a member of the SPP, OPPD is required to have enough capacity to meet not only its own customers’ peak energy usage, but also a 15% reserve margin. The reserve margin is designed to ensure grid reliability during equipment maintenance activities and amid the prospect of extreme weather, something utilities across the country are working to address.

“Meeting future energy needs requires utilities to plan and lay the groundwork much earlier than in the past,” explained Joe Lang, director of Generation Strategy and Origination for OPPD.

SPP must follow federal requirements to thoroughly evaluate all requests to interconnect new generation to the grid. OPPD, like other utilities in the SPP footprint, must wait its turn. This process ensures all generation requests have equal access to the transmission system. The process also ensures that utilities connect to the grid safely.

“There is a large number of new project requests in the SPP footprint right now,” Lang said. “So planning ahead and submitting our interconnection applications early is crucial,”

Diverse energy mix

Underwood said the additions will not impact the utility’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“We modeled all types of generation and energy storage options that are consistent with that commitment without sacrificing affordability and reliability for our customers,” he said.  “The new combustion turbines are part of that journey. A diverse energy mix is crucial to ensuring the critical services of energy supply are not compromised.

“Eastern Nebraska is fortunate to have such capable engineers, who diligently plan and operate our system. They ensure our communities have affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy solutions at such an incredible pace.

“Thank you to those members of our community working with us, our strategic partners and the many colleagues at OPPD for your intentionality and rigor to ensure we do our part for a thriving and prosperous future.”

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker contributes stories to The Wire in addition to serving as a media liaison for OPPD. She was a reporter, working for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to San Diego, prior to joining the utility in 2013. Jodi has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, with a minor in Criminal Justice. She’s married with two older children and two younger dogs – Shi Tzu mixes. She loves watching her daughter’s track meets, going to concerts with her husband Dave, who used to co-host a local music video program, and traveling whenever possible.

View all posts by Jodi Baker >

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