Nebraska’s growth, particularly in OPPD’s service territory, is driving an unprecedented need for more power. Projections call for about 100 megawatts (MW) of new demand annually over the next several years. Previously the utility’s growth rate was about 4 MW per year.
To respond to that growing demand, OPPD’s board of directors in August approved adding 2,500 MW of generation by 2030.
While that new generation is in the planning stages, OPPD soon will bring on the most significant additions to its generating fleet in more than 40 years. Standing Bear Lake and Turtle Creek natural gas generating stations are scheduled to come online late this summer.
OPPD’s board of directors in 2019 approved adding hundreds of megawatts in utility-scale solar and natural gas generation. The two gas plants will add 600 megawatts of natural gas-powered generation.
OPPD’s Platteview Solar, an 81-MW solar array in Saunders County, also will come online this year, followed by more renewable generating sources.
The two new natural gas generating stations will serve as balancing generation to support growing customer demand and bolster system resiliency. They also will be available to support regional power needs as directed by the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization to which OPPD belongs.
The two plants are more than 75% complete.
At Standing Bear Lake Station, a 150-MW facility in Douglas County, nine reciprocating engines are in place inside their respective engine hall rooms.
The engines went into the engine halls in May and were coupled with their generators in June, said Megan Walker, manager of Construction Management at OPPD.
Standing Bear Lake’s substation was completed and energized in December, and transmission work for the plant is complete. That work represents a major milestone for the plant, Walker said.
“All the major equipment is now on both sites,” Walker said. “Turtle substation has been energized; we are preparing to start commissioning this spring.”
During the commissioning process, OPPD works with its construction contractors and turbine manufacturers to ensure all systems are working properly and the facilities are ready to produce energy. The commissioning process is a lengthy and methodical one, Walker said.
Last fall, two massive generator step-up transformers arrived at Turtle Creek. The transformers “step up” the electricity produced by the generators to a higher voltage for transmission. Each transformer weighs about 437,500 pounds.
Turtle Creek Station is in Sarpy County and will produce about 450 MW of power using two simple-cycle combustion turbines made by Siemens.
This month, Wärtsilä, the manufacturer of Standing Bear Lake’s reciprocating internal combustion engines, continues the second phase of engine assembly.
The focus at Standing Bear Lake in the coming months is finishing major electrical work in the site’s engine hall, five power distribution centers and supporting facilities.
The lighting and paving work for both stations is also underway, along with beautification and other cosmetic work, Walker said. Also coming: retaining walls, sound walls and landscaping work.
“It’s exciting to see us progress with our generation needs,” Walker said. “We will celebrate the completion of these two sites later in the year. These are significant additions to helping our communities continue to grow.”
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