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OPPD’s preliminary 2023 budget contains no general rate increase, but proposes small fuel and purchased power factor increase to keep up with rising costs

Jodi Baker's picture
Media Specialist, Omaha Public Power District

Media Specialist, Omaha Public Power District

  • Member since 2020
  • 17 items added with 10,670 views
  • Nov 18, 2022
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During this week’s committee meetings for the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors, utility leaders presented their preliminary $1.9 billion Corporate Operating Plan (COP) for 2023. The plan would hold general rates steady; however, it does include a modest fuel and purchased power factor increase to keep up with the rising costs of fuel and purchased power.

 

Fuel & Purchased Power Adjustment (FPPA)

The Fuel and Purchased Power Adjustment (FPPA), is a commonly used mechanism in the industry to help manage costs outside of a utility’s control, such as fluctuating coal and natural gas prices, and power purchased on the energy market. It appears as a line-item on customer bills. OPPD’s FPPA has not changed for five years. However, OPPD and utilities across the nation are seeing rising costs for fuel, particularly natural gas, and purchased power.

“Increased fuel and purchased power costs are expected to continue to increase into 2023, prompting the need to utilize the FPPA mechanism,” said Jeff Bishop, vice president of the Financial Services Business Unit. “We’re using it to help offset those higher costs, with the goal of continuing to keep power affordable for our customers.”

Bishop said the FPPA would rise by varying amounts across customer classes, averaging 2.9%. For residential customers, the FPPA would increase by 2.5%. The exact amount by which customers may see their bills increase would vary based on energy usage. For the average OPPD residential customer, whose bill is currently $110.62 per month, the current FPPA $1.73 would increase to $4.47, effective Jan. 1.

Because the FPPA is calculated based on energy consumption, customers can take steps to control the impact of the increase by reducing energy usage. OPPD has energy efficiency strategies and tools to help, including how-to videos, at OPPD.com/ee. In addition, OPPD continues to offer a variety of bill payment assistance programs and community resources for those who may be struggling. To learn more by talking with a customer service representative, call 402-536-4131.

The energy sector has seen year-over-year inflation of 17.6% as of October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite an average inflation rate in the United States that currently stands at 8%, the utility is not proposing any changes to the general rate in 2023, which OPPD officials attributed to careful fiscal management. Other utilities have raised both their general rates and adopted larger increases to their FPPA charges.

For a more in-depth look at the proposed FPPA increase factors and impacts or to ask questions, customers may visit OPPDCommunityConnect.com/cop [oppdcommunityconnect.com]. The deadline for FPPA-related questions is Dec. 11.

The preliminary $1.9 billion budget for the coming year reflects OPPD’s work to adapt to and thrive in an ever-changing energy landscape. It supports our unwavering mission to provide affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services. The COP takes into consideration an anticipated retail energy sales increase 6.8% from 2022 sales as we continue to serve more customers. In addition, the budget also reflects increases in fuel (11.5%) and purchased power (30.2%) as compared to the 2022 budget.

 

Capital expenditures

Capital expenditures, totaling $640 million, would include costs related to Power with Purpose (PwP) project, which will add up to 600 megawatts (MW) of utility scale solar and 600 MW of natural gas generation to power our growing communities, as well as associated transmission and distribution infrastructure. The expenditure allocation also covers such areas as routine replacement of fleet vehicles, software renewals, environmental upgrades at power plants, substation and control security upgrades, replacement of transmission and distribution poles as well as underground cable and other underground and overhead infrastructure installations for new residential developments, as well as commercial and industrial customer needs. In addition, OPPD will continue to invest in Light-Emitting Diode (LED) streetlight conversions throughout our service territory. The large portion of all of these expenditures, 74.8%, is expected to come from net proceeds of revenue bonds, projected to be at $478.9 million for 2023.

 

Operations & maintenance

The amount recommended for non-fuel operations and maintenance in 2023 is $481.8 million, 12.3% higher than 2022 projections. Part of this is due to an anticipated increase in maintenance outages at power plants. We have scheduled outages for Nebraska City Station Units 1 and 2, as well as North Omaha Station Units 4 and 5, to ensure the plants are operating reliably and efficiently, as well as continuing to meet or exceed environmental standards. In addition, OPPD must pay increased fees associated with our regional transmission organization, Southwest Power Pool. These fees will be approximately $10 million higher next year. Another big driver for the increase in this area of the budget is a growing number of employees needed to serve a growing customer base, as well as increased costs for employee benefits. Lower pension fund returns are prompting a proposed $4.6 million increase to the utility’s retirement fund contribution for 2023.

 

Fort Calhoun Station decommissioning

Fort Calhoun Station decommissioning expenditures are on track, continuing a gradual annual decline due to the diligent work of OPPD employees and contractors. OPPD’s contribution to the decommissioning trust fund in 2023 is budgeted at $95.2 million, which puts the District on pace to be fully funded by the end of 2024.

 

Next steps

To view the entire COP or to provide feedback, please visit OPPDCommunityConnect.com/cop [oppdcommunityconnect.com]. The board will vote on the plan at its Dec. 15 meeting.

Discussions
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 18, 2022

It's a tough time for utilities and their customers with fuel commodity prices rising, but this type of transparency certainly helps with that process

Jodi Baker's picture
Jodi Baker on Nov 18, 2022

Thanks, Matt! Yes, it is. It's a very interesting time to work in this business. New challenges, for sure. But also exciting in many ways!

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