When I sat down to write this newsletter, I was shocked to learn that the last one I sent was in October 2019! First, I apologize for the lull. Second, things sure have changed since then. Never in a million years would I have imagined we would be in the grips of a pandemic such as this. Safe to say life has changed.
Speaking of change, much is happening at OPPD. Here’s the quick list:
Net Zero Carbon by 2050. In November, the board set a goal to be Net Zero Carbon by 2050. This includes all of our operations, not just the emissions generated when we produce electricity. This is a big deal! (Policy language in SD7: Environmental Stewardship)
Pathways to Decarbonization Strategic Initiative. The district officially launched a massive study to examine the different pathways to achieve decarbonization and the implications of those pathways. Opportunities for engagement and input are forthcoming. More here.
OPPD Community Connect. The district launched a new, interactive website called Community Connect. It’s a great way to learn more about some of the major initiatives underway AND provide your input and perspective. It’s a great resource; I suggest you bookmark it.
State of the Utility. COVID-19 forced the district to take its State of the Utility plans entirely online. The good news is that it’s easily accessible and digestible, and it is still available for you to learn more about all the work happening at OPPD (EV charging stations, battery storage pilot, etc.) More here.
Power with Purpose. Also in November, the board voted to give management the authority to directly negotiate contracts to add up to 600 MW of solar and up to 600 MW of natural gas peaking generation to its fleet. This will allow us to meet growing demand and retire the district’s oldest coal units located in North Omaha. More here.
COVID-19 Impacts. Amid all of the aforementioned activity, the district is successfully managing through a pandemic. Generating and providing electricity is an essential service, and the district hasn’t missed a beat in navigating through it all. I’m so impressed by the dedication and steadfast approach of the organization. (COVID-19 Update.)
Help for Customers Struggling to Pay Bills. There is no question people are struggling. Customers who need help may reach out by calling 402-536-4131 in the Omaha area or 877-536-4131 outside Omaha. OPPD wants to work with customers to set up workable payment plans and help connect them to community resources for assistance.
OPPD’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Efforts. I truly hope our society has reached a tipping point in our efforts to dismantle systemic racism. OPPD has been a community leader in DEI efforts and recently received Inclusive Communities’ Otto Swanson Partner of the Year Award. The board passed a resolution in June condemning systemic racism and reaffirming the district’s commitment to take a leadership role in the pursuit of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Meanwhile in June, Pride Month, the district displayed the rainbow flag at its facilities. As noted in this Omaha World Herald story, we received an overwhelmingly positive response for doing so.
I’m the Chair of the Board. I was honored and humbled to be elected by my board colleagues to be the chair of the board in 2020. It’s been quite the year thus far navigating the pandemic and everything else that’s going on. Chairing an 8-hour virtual committee meeting is something else!
Onward and upward!