Natural Gas

    How does adding a new natural gas facility impact OPPD’s environmental sensitivity?

    The additional generation within the Power with Purpose plan is part of OPPD’s larger effort to be a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050. This effort is called Pathways to Decarbonization. Natural gas assets will play an important role as backup generation to renewables. The proposed assets will be peaking facilities, meaning OPPD will operate the facility as required to meet our load or as necessary to support the marketplace requirements. The flexibility it provides will enable OPPD to further integrate renewable energy into our portfolio, while maintaining reliability and resiliency.

    Who will own the natural gas facility?

    OPPD will own and operate the natural gas facility.

    Are natural gas facilities safe?

    Safety is a top priority in every aspect of OPPD’s operations. The utility has decades of experience operating both natural gas and other types of generation facilities in our communities, and this commitment to excellence in safety will continue when new facilities are added.

    How often will the natural gas facility operate?

    Our units are dispatched by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as the balancing authority based on regional and local needs on the grid. These units are necessary to satisfy OPPD’s accredited capacity obligations and can be called into the SPP market for both economic and reliability reasons. The facility is estimated to operate 5-15% of the time, and only as needed, to help provide a resilient and reliable electric system.

    How will the new natural gas assets be different from those already in OPPD’s fleet?

    The new natural gas facilities will ramp up to produce energy much faster than North Omaha Station Units 1-3, producing fewer emissions during startup. Since the newer units can increase power generation faster, they will be able to stabilize the transmission system more quickly in order to adjust for the variable output of wind, solar generation and other market conditions at any given time.

    Will the new natural gas facility also require a new pipeline?

    The availability of existing natural gas pipelines was one of many factors considered when evaluating potential locations. There will be some natural gas pipeline extensions required to supply fuel to the new sites, however, the extent of pipeline requirements will be fully determined as the detailed gas supply design is developed for the specific sites.

    Are there any concerns from emissions at the natural gas facilities?

    The back-up natural gas facilities will only operate as a peaking facility when market and load demands warrant their operation. Advancements in equipment technology will support lower emissions. Emissions from the natural gas facilities will be strictly monitored and mitigated according to federal and industry guidelines. We follow guidance by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and State of Nebraska and work within all of their regulations. 

    While OPPD is often well below the threshold set by regulators to be protective of human health and the environment, OPPD currently meets or exceeds  all applicable emissions regulations, and strives for continuous improvement in the future.


    I live nearby, are these facilities noisy and what do they look like?

    As we considered proposals for natural gas facilities, we considered the impact to the surrounding area. Any OPPD facility will adhere to noise ordinances for the area. In addition, landscaping can be utilized to minimize the sound and visual impact to those living and working nearby. For more about the facilities’ appearance, you can view renderings for the 120th & Military site and 168th & Fairview site.


    Where will the natural gas facilities be located?

    Please find locations and renderings for the natural gas facility at 120th & Military and at 168th & Fairview.

    Why is the Sarpy County site located away from residents, but the Douglas County site is located near neighborhoods?

    After thorough analysis, which included extensive modeling, the two locations in Douglas and Sarpy counties were identified as the most optimal sites.  

    Because these facilities are natural gas peaking stations (they are estimated to only run 5-15% of the time), it is imperative that we have access to pipelines and the infrastructure to support the generation and distribution of electricity.  

    At the 120th and Military St. site, the close proximity to existing natural gas infrastructure limits the need to disrupt off-site properties to install or expand natural gas connecting infrastructure. Site features such as terrain, vegetation, and physical size are also conducive to reducing visibility of the facilities and sound of the facility. This location also allows for limited expansion of electrical transmission lines to connect to the OPPD system. Similar technology is common in urban settings, such as those used by hospitals and data centers.  All of these factors help keep costs manageable as we produce electricity for our growing communities. 

    At the Sarpy County site, different generation technologies at that facility require a larger site. The Papillion location also supports load growth in the immediate area.


    How loud will this be when it's running?

    OPPD has evaluated the expected sound level that will be generated by the new facilities. Studies showed that sound levels near surrounding properties would be less than 55 decibels (dBA) at the generation site boundaries. That sound level is similar to the noise a dishwasher might make. OPPD intends to comply with local ordinances related to sound output (i.e. decibels) allowed during certain times of the day.

    Click here to download graphics that show estimated sound levels at each facility.

    Are you going to tear down trees and negatively impact the wildlife in the area?

    OPPD’s mission is to provide affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy services to our customers, so the environmental impacts of our project is a priority. OPPD will comply with applicable laws and regulations for the construction and operation of these plants. The proposed natural gas facilities will be co-located with Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD) and the Sarpy County landfill. During the site evaluation process, potential environmental concerns were reviewed through both desktop analysis and on-site surveys. From these environmental studies, OPPD has taken all appropriate measures to ensure we have limited to no adverse impacts to the wildlife in the project study area. We won’t know which trees will need to be removed until the site’s final design is approved. When tree removal is necessary, OPPD will abide by its avian protection plan, and offset any trees removed with new trees and planting habitat in the final design.

    How will the natural gas sites affect my property value?

    Both OPPD facilities will be located on sites adjacent to infrastructure facilities with a similar use. Economic impact considerations were made during the siting process. Our evaluation concluded that it is unlikely that home valuations will diminish with new facilities at these sites. 

    OPPD will develop landscaping plans for both sites that will help provide a natural barrier from the facilities to the adjacent properties.


    Besides the natural gas facility itself, what other infrastructure is needed for the site?

    The facilities, when in service, will both require additional infrastructure to support generation efforts in the area. The electricity generated at each facility will contribute to OPPD’s generation capacity and will be delivered to customers across our service territory. To facilitate this delivery, infrastructure such as transmission lines and substations will be necessary. The main substation to support the generation facility will be co-located with the generation facility. 

    OPPD is in the preliminary stages of transmission design activities to support the new generation assets. We have not yet made any determinations on line routing. The new transmission lines will leverage a routing process that incorporates the many social, environmental and engineering criteria that contribute to the most optimal route. Proximity to homes is a key element of the evaluation and preference is typically given to route options that limit the number of homes immediately adjacent to the line.

    OPPD is committed to provide updates as we have more information on OPPDCommunityConnect.com.


    How will construction on this site disrupt traffic around my neighborhood?

    OPPD expects minimal disruption to traffic flow near the site during construction or eventual operation of the facilities.  Delivery of major equipment to the site may cause slight traffic delays while moving toward or entering the site, but these will be of limited duration and frequency.

    OPPD is committed to provide updates as we get closer to construction and have more information.


    Why was the location at South 168th Street and Fairview Road chosen for a natural gas peaking station?

    A variety of factors are considered when siting a facility, including physical, social, environmental and engineering. Critical factors include access and proximity to supporting infrastructure like transmission lines and natural gas pipelines. The use of existing nearby critical infrastructure helps keep costs low and minimizes additional impacts to surrounding areas. To maintain reliable and resilient service, it is also important for power generation to be near the Omaha metro and growing load requirements in the counties and communities we serve. 

    This location will support both recent and future growth in Sarpy County. The area around highways 50 and 370 near Springfield is seeing some of the most growth within all of OPPD’s system. Generation siting takes this into account and utilizes significant investments in our energy delivery system to support this potential. This location supports the necessary infrastructure for growth, just like roads, water and sewer.  

    The natural gas facility will be a peaking station, which means it only runs as needed to help provide a resilient and reliable electric system. We estimate the facility will run 5 to 15% of the time. It will meet all environmental permits. It meets our Power with Purpose objectives, including supporting the needs of our growing communities while maintaining reliability and resiliency within the changing generation landscape. 

    Why was the location at North 120th and Military Road chosen for a natural gas peaking station?

    This site was chosen based on its close proximity to natural gas and transmission infrastructure and proximity to load. It is uniquely positioned between Omaha and Bennington, an area that has experienced expansive population growth and development.
     

    This site also allows OPPD to easily connect the facility to the rest of OPPD’s assets. Locating the facility near critical electric infrastructure, transmission lines on the south side of the Metropolitan Utilities District (M.U.D.) property and the west side of 120th Street, allows it to be cost effective and will help support system reliability.
     

    The actual facility will be situated closer to 114th Street and Military Road. This location was chosen to minimize impacts to nearby homes and to take advantage of the natural sloping of the terrain, which lends itself to natural sound abatement and provides a measure of visual screening. Some trees will need to be removed, though options to replant trees and vegetation following construction will be considered.
     

    Many sites were considered; both existing and new. OPPD understands the importance of being a good neighbor. We are committed to building and maintaining facilities without significant impacts to adjacent properties. OPPD is focused on minimizing the facility footprint to the extent practical, as well as safety, security, sound mitigation, and proper visual screening and aesthetics. During the design phase, we will also work to limit impacts of the facility related to sound, lighting and traffic.

    Ultimately, this site optimizes OPPD’s partnership with M.U.D. by co-locating on public property with a similar industrial use. This location provides natural gas pipeline capacity and liquid natural gas reserves should they be needed to support reliability and resiliency system-wide. Finally, by locating on land that is already publicly owned, OPPD will not negatively impact the community tax base.
     

    The natural gas facility near N. 120th Street and Military Road will be a peaking station, which means it will only run as needed to help provide a resilient and reliable electric system. We estimate this will run 5–15 % of the time and will meet all environmental permits. It meets our Power with Purpose objectives, including supporting the needs of our growing communities while maintaining reliability and resiliency within the changing generation landscape.   The units being considered at this location are similar to back-up generation units used by hospitals, data center, and financial institutions.

    How will OPPD work with area leaders to ensure the facility aligns with future growth in the Sarpy County area?

    This location is within the zoning jurisdiction of the City of Papillion, and the City has worked collaboratively with OPPD. We will work with the city and nearby communities to mitigate concerns to the best of our ability. We are voluntarily participating in the City of Papillion’s development process to transparently demonstrate our commitment to coexist harmoniously and to accommodate future growth plans. This provides Papillion citizens and leaders with information about the project and the chance to ask questions. It also details how OPPD will support future land use plans, including plans for industrial use in the area along Highway 50.

    Following nationwide trends in generation facility siting, we are working with local developer Noddle Development to reimagine the site for future development that could increase valuations and, ultimately, revenue for the city.  

    How do you plan to address potential volatility in natural gas prices?

    As of October 2020, OPPD is still in the process of sourcing natural gas supplies. The utility has analyzed both current natural gas pricing and evaluated projections for the next 10 to 20 years. While some increases are expected, we are confident the overall cost will remain affordable.  OPPD utilizes fuel diversity system-wide, which helps mitigate this type of volatility. OPPD also utilizes hedging and other tools to provide price protection. Renewable fuels, such as solar, help flatten the peak needs of natural gas.

    The site is estimated to run a small percentage of time, between 5-15% based on market conditions. In addition to our analysis other factors come in to play. Power prices are often correlated with fuel prices, so a higher fuel price will yield a higher power price, this is part of the energy market we are in today. For reliability events that are called on by the market, OPPD will be compensated for our fuel consumed by the Southwest Power Pool.

    How will construction and the eventual natural gas facility at North 120th Street & Military Road impact the wildlife and trees in the area?

    OPPD will keep its neighbors and stakeholders updated as more details become available, especially when it comes to construction.  OPPD will also work within all permits to ensure construction goes smoothly without significant impacts to the area.

    OPPD is accustomed to having wildlife in close proximity to power generation and transmission infrastructure. At a minimum, OPPD will restore any surrounding areas disturbed by site construction and actively seek opportunities to enhance and improve natural habitat and encourage pollinators. OPPD maintains an avian protection plan and program that includes third-party review. The avian protection plan mitigates detrimental effects on migratory birds, and maintains regulatory compliance, while providing customers reliable energy services. OPPD has a proven track record of supporting wildlife and natural habitat.  Wildlife will  have plenty of area to live safely near these new facilities. In our prior experience, even if wildlife does leave during construction, they tend to return.

    The substation and natural gas plant itself will be located in the valley of the site, which will have limited impact on trees. Many of the trees closest to our neighbors will not be touched. Since the new facilities will be in the valley, the natural sloping of the land and the mature trees near neighborhoods should not be impacted and will act as a natural barrier for our neighbors.

    Landscaping will be part of the site plan and OPPD will work to make the site aesthetically pleasing. There are regulations related to trees in proximity to transmission lines, but there is opportunity for pollinator habitat. Similar efforts are currently on display at the OPPD Arboretum at 108th & Blondo streets. A fence will be provided around critical infrastructure like power generation and the substation to protect wildlife, equipment, and system reliability. There are no plans to fence the entire footprint of the site.

    What can the public expect during construction?

    OPPD will work with contractors to mitigate common concerns like traffic, dust, wind-blown debris, drainage, delivery hours, and work hours. We expect to begin grading the site in 2021. Major construction activities are anticipated to begin spring 2022 and continue through late spring 2023. As details become available, they will be shared with the public. All safety guidelines will be met during construction and throughout operations. OPPD coordinates with appropriate government officials and will work to minimize any traffic disruption.

    You can expect OPPD to be a good neighbor during and after construction. As updates are available, OPPD is committed to keeping the public and neighbors informed.

    What is the expected environmental impact of this project from an emissions and groundwater perspective?

    Through early 2021, OPPD is in the sourcing process for the reciprocating internal combustion engines and simple-cycle combustion turbines for the Standing Bear Lake Station and the Turtle Creek Station, respectively. Following selection of this major equipment, OPPD will prepare and submit an air permit application for each site to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) based on equipment emissions performance, modeling, and use of these generation sites as peaking facilities.  Operational runtime is based on electrical market demand and/or grid resiliency needs. The air permit applications will include the estimated potential emissions for each site. State and Federal regulations will be used to set the emissions standards for the selected equipment.  

    OPPD has conducted preliminary Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) for both the Standing Bear Lake Station and Turtle Creek Station sites. The purpose of these assessments was to determine the current environmental state of the sites and identify any potential areas of concern to ensure the most optimal site layout and location of infrastructure to minimize or avoid interaction with these potential areas of concern.

    When looking at potential discharges constituents for water discharges at each site, OPPD will work with the NDEE to set standards in accordance with Title 117, Nebraska Surface Water Quality Standards, and Title 118, Groundwater Quality Standards and Use Classification.  

    • OPPD is aware that any discharge shall not be toxic to aquatic life in surface waters of the State outside the mixing zones allowed with the applicable NDEE standard.  
    • OPPD shall not contain pollutants at concentrations or levels that produce objectionable films, colors, turbidity, deposits, or noxious odors in the receiving streams or water way.
    • OPPD shall not contain pollutants at concentrations or levels that cause occurrence of undesirable or nuisance aquatic life in the receiving stream.  
    • OPPD will design containments and use additional technology to ensure no ground water contamination will occur.