OPPD prepares for retirement of North Omaha Units 1-3

The Omaha Public Power District said Jan. 14 that it has taken another step toward cleaner power generation when the OPPD board moved to make necessary modifications to coal handling units in preparation for the retirement of North Omaha Station Units 1-3 later this spring.

At its monthly meeting Jan. 14, OPPD’s board of directors approved a negotiated contract process that will allow bidders to gain a better understanding of the work and to offer alternatives that may lower the cost to the district.

The work includes segregating the large bunkering systems from the operating units that will remain in service and cleaning out residual coal, which has the potential to be combustible, according to an OPPD news release.

North Omaha Units 1 and 2 will be retired from service in April 2016. North Omaha Unit 3 will stop using coal as a fuel in April 2016 and continue in service using gas as a fuel through the end of 2016. Units 4 and 5 will cease burning coal in 2023.

After the three units quit using coal, the North Omaha coal handling equipment will require modifications to reduce the potential for fire or explosion, according to OPPD materials.

The Generation Hub database shows these nameplate ratings for the North Omaha units: Unit 1 (74 MW); Unit 2 (109 MW); Unit 3 (109 MW); Unit 4 (136 MW); and Unit 5 (218 MW). U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows the North Omaha plant getting coal last year from the Coal Creek mine of Arch Coal and Caballo mine of Peabody Energy, both of which are located in the Wyoming end of the Powder River Basin.

The move to retire the units aligns with the district’s generation plan — approved in June 2014 — as a way to reduce future greenhouse gas and other emissions, while maintaining affordable, reliable service for customer-owners.

The board also approved the appointment of Shane Marik as Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station site vice president and Chief Nuclear Officer. He assumes the position that had been held by Lou Cortopossi since 2012.

The leadership change is part of the plant’s strategic, long-range rotation plan, designed to give workers and leaders exposure to new ways of thinking by utilizing the vast experience from other Exelon (NYSE: EXC) nuclear plant sites.

OPPD contracted Exelon, a leading nuclear operator, to help improve operations at the 500-MW Fort Calhoun nuclear plant.

Marik brings 30 years of experience in the nuclear power industry, most recently serving as the Site Vice President at Dresden Generating Station, in Grundy County, Ill. Cortopossi will continue serving Exelon as the company’s Vice President of Midwest/West Operations. Cortopossi will be responsible for governance and oversight of Exelon Generation’s Midwest and West nuclear energy facilities, including Fort Calhoun.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.