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Maintaining reliability and affordability in public power

Hearing from NPPD and NEGT on decarbonization
Published: Aug. 7, 2021 at 10:21 AM CDT
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NORTH PLATE, Neb. (KNOP) - With the forced rolling blackouts from February 2021 still fresh in the minds of Nebraskans, the public is being encouraged to voice their support for an energy future built on a foundation of reliability and affordability.

Hearing from both the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and the Nebraska Electric Generation & Transmission Cooperative (NEGT) on plans for the future of the industry, as both are wanting feedback in upcoming forums.

The Nebraska Electric Generation & Transmission Cooperative (NEGT), whose 20 utility members provide power to approximately 150,000 consumers in rural Nebraska, wants Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) to hear from the public at town hall meetings beginning next week.

(Darin Bloomquist, NEGT General Manager on the broadcast).

NPPD’s five public forums are scheduled from 6:00-9:00 pm local time:

  • Norfolk – Wednesday, August 11 – Northeast CC, Lifelong Learning Center, 801 East Benjamin Avenue
  • Seward – Thursday, August 12 – Concordia University, Janzow Campus Center, 800 N. Columbia Avenue
  • North Platte – Monday, August 16 – Mid-Plains CC, North Campus, 1101 Halligan Drive - North Campus
  • Scottsbluff – Tuesday, August 17 – Western Nebraska CC, Harms Center Plex, 1601 East 27th Street
  • Kearney – Wednesday, August 18 – Holiday Inn, 110 Second Avenue
  • https://www.nppd.com/powering-nebraska/powering-our-future

The federal government is not mandating changes for NPPD, however, CEO and President of NPPD Tom Kent is addressing the issue. He explains that the technology to align with the U.S. Climate agenda of “Getting to Zero” does not exist at this time. The goals of such organizations as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions https://www.c2es.org/, and the Electric Power Research Institute https://eea.epri.com/ of achieving net-zero emissions is the current topic being addressed by the NPPD Board.

Kent spoke to the media on Friday concerning the decarbonization process and how it affects utilities and their customers.

Kent explains that NPPD is in the process of working with the board to “develop and potentially finalize a goal from a board strategic directive standpoint that establishes a carbon emissions reduction goal for the district over time.”

“So we’ve been on this journey with our customers for a couple of years now, where we’ve been working with them to educate our customers and our board on the potential business risk of carbon emissions, and how that might impact our business going into the future.

This started (a couple of years ago) with a process, where we had a committee made up of representatives from customers, and representatives from our board and staff started going through an education process and used that process to educate our customers. Near the end of that process in early 2020, the feedback was basically, we can see and understand the need to look at this to understand the risk to our resource mix and how to adapt in the future to manage that risk, and also wanted to get a feel for what the potential cost is associated with that. So, our board authorized two vendors to do some high-level analysis on what potential resource reduction scenarios could exist, and how that might impact our resource mix and costs over time to meet an arbitrary goal that we established for them to study in terms of reductions.

That information was shared with our board and customers. It was not a detailed, robust analysis, rather based on the assumptions of potential outcomes and what that would look like. In the next step of the process, our board wanted to get feedback from customers and the public in terms of their thoughts on carbon emissions and what they think we should be doing as the utility that serves them in regards to those emissions and how that may impact a goal the board may set.

Should the board set that directive in place, that will be one of the inputs we use as we go through our next integrated resource planning process which we will be starting later this fall with the goal of having a resource plan developed through that integrated resource planning process or a directionally correct resource plan that will be available sometime in 2023.

We are working closely with the Electric Power Resource Institute (EPRI) with members participating in public outreach sessions. To provide background on the topics of decarbonization. Unitilies across the nation are working to evaluate and address decarbonization in the electric sector and economy-wide and how the electric sector can help other sectors, such as transportation.”

Tom Kent, CEO and President of NPPD

Kent says the federal government is using 2005 as a starting point when discussing regulations. He is sharing some of the findings of current emissions compared to 2005. Based on an “Intensity Basis,” based on 2005 levels as a starting point, Kent says NPPD”s 2020 emissions on a carbon intensity basis (based on energy used to serve native load) is 620lbs per megawatt-hour, which he says is a 60 percent reduction from 2005.

“ A lot of that has to do with the fact that we are a nuclear power operator and all our energy from our nuclear power plant is being used to serve our customers, and that is carbon-free energy, and so that helps us make those goals and show that significant reduction.

If you look at our total generation basis, including what we sell into the marketplace - into the SPP market that gets used by other utilities in the SPP market - our 2020 carbon intensity on a total generation basis was 1,016 lbs per megawatt hour which is a 39 percent reduction from 2005.

One thing that is really important, is that we have to balance affordability, reliability, and these goals in terms of sustainability of our resources and their impacts on the environment - carbon emission goals and other environmental goals. We have to have that balance, and I think the winter storm in February serves as a good example of how important that balance is to ensure affordability and reliability while we are considering this transformation.

That information will all be used to help inform our board as they continue to deliberate and dialogue on the potential strategic directive related to our generation resource mix as we look into the future.”

Tom Kent, CEO and President of NPPD

Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Energy Systems and Climate Analysis program develops and applies modeling tools to provide public- and private-sector decision-makers with fundamental insights regarding the cost and performance of policy alternatives, both for the electric sector and the overall economy. https://eea.epri.com/

The federal government is not mandating changes for NPPD.

https://www.nppd.com/powering-nebraska/powering-our-future

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