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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Public power utilities again given high reliability scores

June 15, 2020 | Jason Kuiper | public power, reliability
Public power reliability

If you want some of the country’s most reliable power service, your best bet is to live in a community served by public power.

OPPD’s customers already know that, and a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) backs up that claim.

Low outage times

According to the latest “Today in Energy” report, dated June 1, power outage duration for U.S. electricity customers averaged 5.8 hours per customer in 2018. Publicly owned utility customers experienced the most reliability, averaging about one hour of interrupted electric service annually since 2013, EIA reported.

Investor-owned utility (IOU) customers averaged slightly less than two hours of interrupted service. Cooperative customers averaged about two-and-a-half hours of interrupted service.

Those levels do not take into account major events. When such events are factored in, the order remains the same – public power utilities top them all.

Hard work

Every year, OPPD does a number of things to maintain high reliability, including reinvesting in its system and infrastructure.

In the past three years, OPPD has replaced more than 300 miles of underground cable in the rural and metro areas of its service territory. The program replaces cable damaged by a fault or have aged.

And in May, 2020, OPPD performed aerial inspections of transmission lines by helicopter. The utility does the inspections periodically to survey portions of the 1,280 miles of transmission lines in its service territory.

Aerial surveys are the quickest and lowest-cost method to spot potential problems in the district’s transmission system.

The helicopter inspections utilized a 100-megapixel camera and stabilization system to take high resolution photos of transmission structures. If inspectors spot issues that need quick attention, OPPD dispatchers and transmission and distribution personnel are notified so they can arrange for repairs.

Those are just two examples of the work OPPD performs to ensure reliability for the utility’s customers.

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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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