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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Video: Massive engines mark a Power with Purpose milestone

September 12, 2022 | Jason Kuiper | generation, reliability, renewables, T&D
natural gas generation
Multiple agencies work together to safely move a reciprocating internal combustion engine to the Standing Bear Lake Station natural gas generation balancing site. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

Work on OPPD’s Power With Purpose project is progressing as three of the nine engines that will serve Standing Bear Lake Station (SBLS) have arrived at the site.

The reciprocating internal combustion engines, made by Wärtsilä, started arriving early Sept. 7 at the construction site near 114th Street and Military Road.

Their arrival marks a major step forward with the construction of two new natural gas generation balancing plants. The plants will provide backup power for the solar component of OPPD’s Power with Purpose initiative, the utility’s solar and natural gas project.

The utility’s board of directors approved the plan in November 2019. The facilities will be OPPD’s first generation additions since Nebraska City Station’s Unit 2 came online in 2009.

The natural gas generation plants will provide reliability and resiliency to the grid in support of renewables, to balance the energy load as appropriate. The utility will also use the plants during extreme weather conditions to maintain a consistent quality of electricity for OPPD’s customers.

The Power with Purpose project will add 400 to 600 MW of utility-scale solar and 600 MW of natural gas to OPPD’s generation portfolio. The project will also help the utility power its growing communities, prioritizing reliability and resiliency, while continuing with the commitment to net-zero carbon by 2050.

Big equipment for big move

The engines took quite the journey. They started their trip in Italy, where they were built. Next they traveled to the U.S. by ship, then rode the rails to Nebraska.

T&D_Engine Move 2022_ SBLS 6
The trailer and engine pass below a raised traffic signal on the way to  Standing Bear Lake Station. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

Once in Omaha, each engine travels on a trailer to SBLS. A trailer and an engine together measure about 248’ long by 14’ wide and 19’ tall. They weigh a combined 796,000 pounds.

OPPD brought in specialized large-equipment movers to transport the massive equipment to the SBLS site. The trip required some road closures for a brief period of time overnight. OPPD coordinated with city, county and state officials, as well as members of law enforcement, to ensure the safety of the public and workers along the route.

“The Wärtsilä engine moves require significant coordination with several entities, and we are really pleased with how well the first three moves have gone,” said Megan Walker, manager of Construction Management at OPPD. “We have gained efficiencies with each move so far. Hats off to the responsible parties, especially the tremendous efforts by our Elkhorn Service Center employees.”

The public can stay apprised of updates with the SBLS project at

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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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