Renewables on the Rise...
The Omaha Public Power District announced a major initiative to significantly increase the amount of renewable energy used to generate electricity to serve its customers. The utility anticipates that a substantial portion of that will come from wind. At the same time, the District will vigorously pursue efforts to reduce the demand on its system through energy-efficiency programs offered to customers. Officials say the two actions could delay the need for a new generating plant for more than ten years.
The District has set a target of 10% of the electricity provided by the utility to its customers being produced by renewable resources by the year 2020. This means adding approximately 400 megawatts of renewable energy to OPPD’s portfolio of power. Around 118 megawatts of that will come in the next two years in the form of additional wind generation, 38 of which already is on order.
OPPD currently has or is contracted for about 55 megawatts of renewable wind and landfill gas generation at its disposal.
Factors making the announcement possible were changes in state law, such as passage of the Community-Based Energy Development legislation by the Nebraska Unicameral, which has made it attractive for private groups to develop renewable energy projects. That has helped make renewable energy more cost-competitive.
While adding megawatts to the system, OPPD also intends to subtract them, too. OPPD will work to reduce the use of electricity by its customers by 50 megawatts by the end of 2012. OPPD plans to offer a variety of energy-efficiency programs to reach that target. OPPD’s Sustainable Energy and Environmental Stewardship Division is developing and coordinating those programs.