November 2018 Board Meeting Summary

We had a long, important meeting on Thursday, November 15. Here’s a quick recap.

 Strategic Directive 7: Environmental Stewardship

The board approved an updated version of our Environmental Stewardship strategic directive by a 6-2 vote (see pg 11 here for final version). The new SD sets long-term goals of 50% of retail sales coming from renewables and a 20% reduction in our carbon intensity (annual CO2/kWh) by 2030 from a 2010 baseline.  My ‘no’ vote was incredibly difficult. I’ll explain.

I am on the Public Information Committee, which is the committee that is tasked with bringing the full board a recommendation for final language on the strategic directive (SD). Our committee, along with the majority of the senior management team, spent hours upon hours studying, discussing, deliberating, refining, considering, evaluating, disagreeing, and ultimately compromising on the now final version. It was an arduous yet productive process through which I gained even more respect for my colleagues and members of senior management.

Yet, as we wrapped up our discussions as a full board at Tuesday’s all-committee meeting, I still wasn’t sure how I was going to vote. On one hand, the new SD is significantly improved. While it wasn’t perfect, we made good progress. Furthermore, I felt the need to honor the work and compromise of the PI Committee. On the other hand, my primary concern was that we weren’t setting a long-term vision for carbon reduction.

At Thursday’s board meeting, I offered my final thoughts on the SD and the work, writ large, that we have in front of us to continue improving our environmental footprint. (You can see the full board discussion by viewing this video; SD7 starts at 59:00.) The main points I made were:

1.     Thanks to the PI Committee, Director Yoder, and the senior management team

2.     OPPD has done exceptional work as it relates to environmental stewardship over the last 5-10 years

3.     Our customer-owners desire carbon reduction and clean energy (backed up with several statistics)

4.     Brief summary of a few concerns I have with SD7

5.     Policy makers, including we as OPPD Directors, should be making decisions through an ethical framework, not just cost-benefit analysis

6.     Our long-term goal should be zero carbon

I ended my comments with the following:

I’m proud of the way in which we’ve approached totally rewriting this SD, and I believe it is a marked improvement over the previous version. I’m proud of the fact that we’re talking about carbon emissions and much, much more, and our conversations are thoughtful, and tough, and mixed with equal parts practicality and future thinking.

But we must continue to wrestle with the challenges we face. For it’s not an understatement to say that we have an opportunity to solve one of the world’s biggest, most complicated challenges. We can play a leading role in helping humanity transition to an economy that is economically and reliably fueled by clean, non-emitting fuel sources. It is the challenge of our lifetimes, and I can think of no better organization and no better people to tackle the challenge…and I look forward to working together with my fellow board members, with OPPD’s management team, and with all of OPPD’s exceptional people to embrace the opportunity and solve the problem.

All throughout the process of rewriting SD7, we accepted, reviewed and considered comments from the public, and there were many. During the Board meeting, several students from Creighton University and a few from Central High School advocated for more aggressive action on reducing climate impacts. These students gave articulate, compelling and at times emotional testimony. They were knowledgeable, on point, and their thoughtful comments really grabbed my attention.

Once public comment concluded, we went right into voting, and I voted no. While it wouldn’t have mattered one way or another (it would have passed either way), I felt the weight of that vote. Yes/no votes are very black and white. There’s no “yes, but…” alternative. In the case of SD7, what took me from a ‘yes’ vote to a ‘no’ vote was that lack of a long-term vision for zero carbon.

In the end, I’m very satisfied with the progress we made on SD7, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it is implemented. And perhaps most importantly, for those of you that have testified before public bodies and wondered whether or not it made a difference, let me reassure you, it most certainly does.

Changing Course on Fort Calhoun Station Decommissioning

Over the last few months and culminating at our November meeting, OPPD has changed course in how we’re planning to decommission the Fort Calhoun nuclear station. Our previous plan was to deconstruct the plant in roughly sixty years. Through exceptional work on the part of some stellar OPPD employees, we’re electing to expedite that timeline and deconstruct in the next ten years, which will save OPPD roughly $200 million over the next several decades.

We’ve also elected to pursue a deconstruction plan that will be led by OPPD and will also engage a contractor in assisting and advising along the way. Keeping our staff in charge and leading the project is the right approach. They’ve been doing a great job with the early stages of decommissioning, and I’m confident they’ll knock it out of the park with deconstruction.

2019 Corporate Operating Plan (Budget)

OPPD released its 2019 budget last week. The utility is in a great financial position, and I’m really happy with how strong we are financially. See here for the full presentation slide deck, or watch Tuesday’s full video presentation (starting at 16:40) here.

Corporate Officer Adjustments (Pay Raises) for Four Executives

Four members of the senior management team earned 3% merit increases, which, for most of them, was on top of market adjustments made to their salaries. With respect to the latter, their jobs had expanded to the point where the market salary comparisons we were using were no longer germane. As such, they needed to be compared to other jobs, which increased their salary ranges. In any event, all four of them are performing at very high levels, and I fully support their market and merit increases.

Onward and upward!

Recycling Campaign Signs

On Wednesday morning, the day after the election, I posted on social media that I would gladly take any yard signs and ensure they make their way to the correct recycling facility. A few hours and several media interviews later, it’s clear there is quite a bit of interest. So, here’s the scoop.

Guidance on What to do with Campaign Signs:

  • Paper and rigid plastic signs: curbside recycling

  • Metal stakes: take to a scrap metal recycler (e.g., Scrap Central)

  • Soft plastic signs: place in an EnergyBag and then put in your curbside bin

If any one of those options doesn’t work for you, feel free to drop them off at my house. Address is 510 S. 57th St. Team Moody will take care of them for you.

Several people have rightly pointed out that it’s best to reuse before recycling. I couldn’t agree more. Here are a couple of examples of what folks have suggested for reuse:

  • Realtors may be interested in the metal stakes

  • Repurpose paper signs and metal stakes for garage sale signs

  • Cut up paper signs and use them for kitty litter

  • Metal stakes could be used as trellises in your garden

Finally, if you were so kind as to host a large sign for a candidate, please contact them to pick it up.

An Electric Utility's Role in Addressing Climate Change

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report aimed at, in part, summarizing the impacts of a 1.5˚C increase in global average temperatures above pre-industrial levels. Their findings were nothing short of alarming.
Impacts on natural and human systems have already been observed, and Nebraska is not immune from the effects of climate change. As reported in the University of Nebraska’s 2014 report, Understanding and Assessing Climate Change Implications for Nebraska, researchers are expecting, among other things, an increase in heavy precipitation events, a drying trend in the summer, and a 5 – 10% decrease in soil moisture. All of which could have a negative impact on Nebraska’s economic engine: the agricultural industry.
OPPD’s mission is to provide reliable, affordable, environmentally sensitive energy services to our customer owners. As it relates to environmental sensitivity, OPPD has made great strides in recent years, which has reduced its sizable greenhouse gas emissions.
In the last year alone, OPPD rolled out an electric vehicle rebate pilot program, announced its first community solar project, partnered with UNMC and Nebraska Medicine to prepare for installation of the state’s largest rooftop solar array, and, perhaps most importantly, started construction on a new 160 MW wind farm near Wayne, NE. This latest wind project, The Sholes Wind Energy Center, will bring OPPD to 40% of its retail sales coming from renewable energy sources.
Despite the exceptional progress, there is still much to do.
As a member of OPPD’s board of directors, I view it as an amazing opportunity to take a meaningful role in solving one of the world’s biggest, most complicated problems.
I believe there are three primary ways in which OPPD can play a role. First, we can continue our migration away from fossil fuels to cleaner fuel sources, and I believe we should set our sights on a long-term goal to produce carbon-free electricity.
Getting to carbon-free will not be easy. Technologies such as batteries will need to improve, and we must consider and plan for a positive impact on our employees. Among our biggest challenges will be meeting the other two pillars of our mission: reliability and affordability. It can be a delicate balance, but it’s a balancing act that, in my view, we must undertake.  
Second, I believe we should play a catalytic role in driving a broad transition to an electricity-driven world. Electric vehicles in particular present an immense opportunity for OPPD to help reduce transportation-related emissions and to increase the OPPD's revenue. Once again, the challenge is balancing the significant impacts that such a transition will have on our grid, which the current EV pilot is intended to better understand and help us plan for.
Finally, I believe that OPPD can and should continue to play an increasingly active role in helping our customer owners be more energy efficient. The cleanest kilowatt hour is the one never produced, and affordability is best defined as what a customer-owner pays per month, not per kilowatt hour.
The IPCC authors found that if emissions continue at the current pace, the atmosphere will warm by as much as 1.5˚C by 2040, resulting in, among other things, inundated coastlines, intensified droughts and poverty, and near elimination of the planet’s coral reefs. What’s notable is that the 2040 timeframe is well within most of our lifespans. Let there be no mistake, climate change is here. Now. And it’s time for all of us to act.
As many of you know, the board is currently taking comments on a draft of its environmental stewardship strategic directive. While the directive doesn’t go so far as the vision I outlined above, it is a good step forward. Read more about the draft directive here, and provide comments by 11/4 here.

September 2018 Board Report Out

September’s OPPD board meetings were chock-full of important information and discussion, and your input is needed on the board’s strategic directive related to environmental stewardship. Here’s a quick run down on the big stuff.  

Draft Revisions to Strategic Directive 7: Environmental Stewardship

At our Tuesday committee meeting, the board spent 2+ hours discussing draft changes to SD7: environmental stewardship. It was a robust discussion that follows several hours of earlier work on the part of the board’s Public Information Committee (on which I serve) and management.

Link to SD7 Presentation

Link to video of committee meeting (SD7 discussion starts at 52:27) 

I’m confident we have made some substantial improvements to SD7, which is for the most part being completely rewritten. But the most important element in SD7 is the primary metric we’re using to measure our environmental stewardship and the goal we set for that metric. In the current version, the metric is our percent of retail sales that come from renewable energy. It’s important to note that this only includes retail sales and excludes any sales OPPD makes on the wholesale market. We’re currently over 30% renewable for the year and expect to be at 40% by the end of 2019.

The proposed SD7 shifts us to a metric that measures carbon intensity. More specifically, it takes all of our CO2 emissions for a year and divides them by the total (retail + wholesale) megawatt hours sold in the same year. In essence, it’s a measure of how clean (or dirty) each kWh is. Here’s the formula:

                        Carbon intensity =    Total annual tons of CO2 emissions
Total annual mWh sold

Why the switch? As evidenced by the graph on page 5 of the board presentation and included below, there is not an entirely indirect correlation between increases in % renewables and a decrease in carbon intensity. Furthermore, the thinking is - strictly looking through an environmental lens - increasing renewables is a second order activity that is intended to achieve a higher level purpose of reducing emissions. If we agree on that premise, then why not focus on measuring the higher-level outcome we’re trying to achieve?

Carbon Intensity Graph.png

There is not agreement that measuring carbon intensity is the right approach. To be sure, there are legitimate arguments to 1) stick with % of renewables or 2) simplify by focusing on only annual tons of CO2 emitted. Whatever we end up choosing, we would continue to measure % of retail sales that are renewable and several other environmental metrics.

Finally, and perhaps more consequential, is the goal. The draft policy sets a goal of pushing carbon intensity to 20% below a 2010 baseline, which generally aligns with what the Clean Power Plan called for. The proposed goal, in my view, does not go far enough. I would like to see a longer-term, more aggressive goal to drive down emissions. In short, I think we should be targeting zero carbon and/or 100% renewable by 2050. But after hours of Public Information Committee debate and discussion, it became clear there wasn’t enough support to get there, so the proposed goal is a compromise.  

As evidenced by a recent bit of market research and polling done on behalf of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group for utilities, there is broad support for transitioning to renewable energy, and there is reasonable concern on the part of utilities about how to get there and at what pace. Ultimately, I firmly believe that the long-term goal for all utilities is to find a zero carbon way to provide affordable and reliable electricity, but how we get there and at what pace is the challenge.

The board agreed to send the proposed draft of SD7 out for public comment for four weeks, which means we want to hear from customer-owners before our next board meetings on October 9. Submit your comments here or shoot me an email at

Potential Change to Decommissioning

As covered by the Omaha World Herald, we are considering a change to our approach for decommissioning the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station. The current plan, called Safstor, calls for us to complete the deconstruction process in roughly 50 years. The proposed change would accelerate that timeframe and have us deconstructing the plant within the next 10 years. In either scenario, casks of nuclear waste would remain safely onsite until 2058.

Financial projections for accelerating our plans are very favorable, and there are many other benefits. This isn’t a done deal, however. OPPD management will bring a final plan to the board at our October board meeting for approval.

The full board discussion from our recent committee meeting begins at 5:13 (video here). And here is a link to the slide deck that was presented.

UNMC/Nebraska Medicine to Install Solar

I was very excited to learn of UNMC/Nebraska Medicine’s plans to install the state’s largest rooftop solar array on its campus. The panels will generate up to 500 kilowatts of clean energy beginning in 2019. Read more about the project in OPPD’s The Wire story.

Lots of good stuff happening. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Onward and upward!

May 2018 Board Agenda

I'm celebrating primary election day by attending our OPPD board committee meeting on May 15. We have a few pretty interesting items on the docket. Here are your links to the relevant materials.

Of particular interest is a presentation we'll hear on Tuesday regarding OPPD's Electric Vehicle (EV) strategy, which will consist of, in part, a pilot starting in June 2018. The pilot will include rebates...and I'll leave it at that for now. I'm really excited to learn more and am anxious to see how much interest there is in the marketplace for EVs.  

CEO Tim Burke is due for his performance evaluation and associated consideration of a salary increase. We'll discuss his performance in closed session on Tuesday. Thursday we'll hit the highlights of that discussion and vote on his increase. 

Also in closed session on Tuesday will be 1) an update on our negotiations with a developer to purchase solar energy for our community-solar-like program, and 2) an extended security awareness briefing. Both should be very interesting. 

Other items of some interest include:

  • Revisions to Strategic Directive #1: Strategic Foundation (mission, vision, etc.)
  • An update on how the retirement plan is faring in the marketplace (answer: not as good as 2017)
  • Monitoring report of Strategic Directive #2: Rates

Hope to see you there!

And please don't forget to vote on Tuesday, May 15!!! Click here to find your polling location.

Onward and upward. 

March 2018 Board Agenda

We're into March already! Our board meetings are full this month. Here are your links to the relevant materials.

A few very big items on the docket. First, we'll be discussing the proposed Community Solar Rate during our Tuesday meeting and then voting on Thursday. I've spent more time on this issue in the last month than any other item we've worked on since I took office in January 2017. Tuesday's conversation will be important. 

We'll also receive updates on plans to transition streetlights to LED. I'm very happy this appears to be on track after several years of stalled negotiations between the City and OPPD.

We're also hearing an update on shut offs. This is a topic that comes up somewhat frequently when I'm talking with customer-owners so I'm anxious to see how the numbers fared in 2017.

The final big-ticket items are several topics concerning our investments, namely the retirement plan annual report, 401(k) and 457 reports, and other post employment benefit trusts. 

Should be a hoot. Hope to see many of you there!

Onward and upward. 

Open Forum on March 21

It's very important to me that OPPD's customer-owners be given frequent and clear opportunities to learn more about OPPD and to provide input on where the utility is headed. As such, I'll be hosting my second open forum on March 21 and hope to see many of you there. 


  • When: Wednesday, March 21 from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. Presentation starts at 7:15.
  • Location: UNO's Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, Room 209
  • Who: Open to the public

Format: I plan to walk through a presentation that summarizes recent and planned OPPD activities and hope to engage attendees in dialogue throughout. If questions remain at the conclusion of the presentation, I'll stick around as long as necessary to answer the questions I can.

Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any comments or questions in advance. I can be reached at and 402.681.9458.

Onward and upward!  

February 2018 Board Meeting Agenda

Committee and Board meetings are this week. Committee meeting is Tuesday, 2/13 at 8:30am and our Board meeting is on Thursday at 4pm. Here are your links to agendas and materials:

Here's the quick run down of what we're discussing and doing:

  • Community Solar. We are learning more about the proposed structure of OPPD's first community solar program, including the rate plans. This will kick off a month of public input. We expect to take action on the proposal at the March board meeting. (Committee meeting only)
  • Strategic Directive Reviews. We are hearing reports on Strategic Directives #1 (Strategic Foundation) and #3 (Access to Credit Markets) and will be voting on whether or not the District is sufficiently compliant with both. (Report and discussion at Committee; vote via consent agenda at Board meeting). Link to policy binder. 
  • Strategic Directive Approvals. We're wrapping up a month of public comment on changes to SD13 (Public Outreach and Engagement) and will be voting during the Board meeting. We've received fewer comments than I have thumbs. 
  • Executive Compensation: Mo Doghman. We'll be discussing Mo's performance and potential wage increase during closed committee meeting and voting on a pay increase at the Board meeting. 
  • Update on 2018 Legislation. We will hear an update on the latest activities in the Unicameral's legislative session.

Please don't hesitate to call or email should you have any questions, comments or concerns. 

Onward and upward.  

January Board Meeting Agenda

Our first board meetings of 2018 are this week. Committee meeting is Tuesday, 1/9 at 8:30am and our Board meeting is on Thursday at 4pm. Here are your links to agendas and materials:

On the surface, the agendas are a little on the lighter side. Here are the biggies that will warrant more discussion and attention:

  • Update on bond refinancing. The finance team recently refinanced $220 million+ of bonds, which has a present value savings of approximately $22.3 million in debt service. (Committee meeting only)
  • Update on state and federal legislation. The Nebraska unicameral and Congress are both back in session, and we'll receive an update on bills that may impact the district. (Committee meeting only)
  • Strategic Directive 6: Safety. We'll vote on whether the district is compliant with our safety strategic directive. (Discussion in Committee. Board consent action item.)
  • Strategic Directive 13: Community Outreach & Communication. Stemming from the board's discussion at our July 2017 workshop, we're refining this strategic directive. It's gone through multiple iterations in Public Information Committee. The full board will review and determine whether it's ready for public comment. (Committee meeting only)
  • We'll receive an update on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  (Committee meeting only)
  • Updates on litigation and cyber security. (Committee meeting closed session only)
  • We'll consider compensation adjustments for Kate Brown and Mo Doghman (Preliminary discussion in Committee meeting closed session. Voting at Board meeting)
  • Election of Board Officers (Board meeting only)

OK, so maybe the agenda isn't quite as light as I was thinking! As always, give me a call or shoot me an email if you have any comments or questions.

Onward and upward.

    December Board Meeting Agenda

    Reminder that the Board will vote on the 2018 Corporate Operating Plan at our Thursday meeting. I recently posted a very brief run down here. It includes several links for those of you interested in digging deeper and learning more. 

    Here are links to Tuesday's committee meeting agenda/materials and Thursday's board meeting agenda/materials. Some really interesting and important items on the agendas, including:

    • Community Solar announcement
    • Update on the Innovation strategic initiative 
    • Update on the Integrated Energy Marketplace initiative
    • Corporate Officer Compensation Plan
    • Legislative update looking forward to the 2018 Nebraska unicameral session


    2018 Corporate Operating Plan

    OPPD’s 2018 Corporate Operating Plan (COP) is up for approval at our December 14 board meeting. I wanted to provide a very brief synopsis, and I hope that anyone with questions or comments will contact me at any time. The board’s first access to the COP was at our November 16 board meeting when we received a copy and CFO Javier Fernandez presented the highlights. He did a great job of hitting the high points. If you’re interested, you can view his presentation here (runs from 0:40:00 to 1:22:00), and link to slide deck here.

    At roughly 1:18 during the presentation I asked Javier what he views as the biggest risks to OPPD achieving what’s planned in the COP. His answer struck me in that the first risk he mentioned was the potential negative consequences of the tax reform/cut plan currently being considered at the federal level. His answer is worth a listen.

    In short, things are looking great with the COP.  Here is what I see as the highlights:

    • Rates. No general rate increase. Yes, fixed fees will go up as planned, but the overall rate structure will result in no general increase.
    • Rate Stabilization Fund. In 2017, $8 million will be deposited bringing the total up to our target of $50 million.
    • Decommissioning Funding. Also in 2017, $24 million will go into the Decommissioning and Benefit Reserve Fund, which is the first deposit made into the account. Projections show this fund growing to $33 million in 2018. This is aside from two other decommissioning funds currently on the books. Generally speaking, decommissioning funding is good (projected to be $449 million in 2018).
    • Capital Expenditures. All capital expenditures in 2017 and projected capital expenditures in 2018 will be funded with cash. No additional debt is good.
    • Net Income. Projected to be $76 million in 2017 and $80 million in 2018. (This is after revenue deferrals of $32 million and $9 million respectively).
    • Renewables. We’re expected to be over 30% in 2018. Looking forward (not covered in 2018 COP) we have new wind projects coming online in 2019 and 2020 getting us to 50%.

    There is much, much more to dig through if one is so inclined. I’ve spent quite a bit of time sifting, and Director McGuire and I had a good meeting with Javier and other members of management to discuss the plan.

    You can provide comments here or just shoot me an email at

    Onward and upward.

    November Board Meeting Agenda

    We have a busy agenda at tomorrow's board meeting. Here's a link to the agenda & associated materials. Here's a quick list of what I consider to be the more important items. 

    • 2018 Corporate Operating Plan introduction
    • Voting on refinements to strategic directives related to rates and customer service
    • Voting on 2018 board meeting schedule
    • Introduction of new demand side management partnership with Nest
    • The amazingly-popular President's Report

    Come join us. 4pm at 444 S. 16th St. I'll share my coffee!

    October Board Meeting Agenda

    It's the eve of our day-long committee meeting, so I'll get right to the point. Here's a link to the committee meeting package of materials. The agenda is the first page, so if you're interested in seeing all the full monty of what we'll be discussing, please take a look. 

    I'm anxious for our discussions on Strategic Directives #2 (rates) and #5 (customer satisfaction). In both cases, we'll be refining them, which is an outgrowth of our July workshop discussions. I expect that we'll vote on them both Thursday.

    We'll also be reviewing Strategic Directives #10 (ethics) for potential refinements and #12 (information management & security) for compliance. Related to the latter, we'll hear a cyber security update in close session. 

    Also in close session, we'll have a discussion about executive and corporate succession planning, which is a very important topic. 

    As always, email or call with questions or comments.  

    September Board Meeting Agenda

    First, I want to offer condolences to the family of Rich Hurley, who passed away on September 8. Rich was a great colleague on the board. He was thoughtful, inquisitive, and open-minded while staying focused on creating a great electric utility. He will be sorely missed.

    Our Board Committee meeting is tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/12). This is our first month with our new meeting schedule. Here’s a quick recap of the schedule/process changes:

    • The five committees will no longer regularly meet each month
    • All discussions that previously took place in one of the five committee meetings will now occur at our Tuesday all-committee meeting, which starts at 8:30am (gonna be a long meeting!)
    • Board meeting will be on Thursday at 4:00pm.

    Committees include the following:

    • Finance, Insurance & Audit
    • Nuclear Oversight
    • Public Information
    • System Management
    • Governance

    These five committees will still exist, but they will meet on an ad-hoc basis. In most cases, they’ll be meeting in order to consider refinements to board policies. I’m currently on the Public Information and System Management committees.

    As it relates to our September board meeting, below is a brief summary of the major stuff we’ll be discussing. If you’re looking for all the details, take a look at the Committee Meeting Packet and Board Meeting Agenda.


    Strategic Initiative Updates

    We’ll hear updates on two strategic initiatives:

    Customer Experience: Be a trusted energy services partner that understands, cares for, enables and honors the diverse energy needs of our customers and communities.

    Financial Sustainability: Create a comprehensive financial management framework that enables management to make timely, informed business plans and decisions to ensure effective allocation of resources to enable business transformation.

    Board Policy Refinement Process

    An outcome of our July workshop was an improved process for refining our board policies. We’ll hear a presentation that summarizes the new process and will discuss as a board. As a reminder, there are four strategic directives that are likely to see revisions in the short-term. They are:

    • SD5: Customer Satisfaction
    • SD2: Competitive Rates
    • SD13: Stakeholder Outreach and Communication
    • SD7: Environmental Stewardship

    The strategic directives are the single most important thing that we do as board members (IMO). Refinements to all four of the aforementioned will go through the Public Information Committee before finding their way to the full board. I’m anxious and excited to see how they evolve.

    Approval of Third & Final Labor Union Contract
    The third OPPD labor union (Local No. 1483) reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract. Highlights of the agreement:

    • It’s a five-year agreement (they are normally three years)
    • Increases in health insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums
    • Employee contributions to the pension plan gradually climb from 6.2% in 2018 to 9.0% in 2022
    • Increase in contribution OPPD makes to Health Savings Accounts
    • 3% per year increase in wages


    We’ll hear a variety of other reports and take action on a few things as well. Here’s the brief summary of a few (again, not all-inclusive):

    • Voting on whether or not OPPD is compliant with Strategic Directive 10: Ethics
    • Report on the Sarpy Transmission Project selected route
    • Quarterly Enterprise Risk Management update in closed session
    • Southwest Power Pool Services update

    There are a variety of matters we’ll hear related to finances, nuclear, and contracts.


    About CEO Burke's Pay Raise

    At our August 17 OPPD Board Meeting, we voted 6-1 to give CEO Tim Burke a 4% pay increase, taking his salary to $523,651, which is 62% of the midpoint for the CEO salary range. See resolution here. I was one of the six yes votes.

    Some may see such a high salary and experience a little sticker shock. That’s an understandable reaction. I was originally taken aback. However, his salary is well below what Tim’s peers are making at similar utilities. Furthermore, the majority of our peers have incentive programs that can be very lucrative. OPPD has no such program. In order to retain Mr. Burke, which is something I feel is important for us to do, we need to compensate him appropriately.

    Ultimately I think Tim is doing a good job leading the utility. He’s a strong, energetic leader that has led the organization through some pretty difficult decisions in the last year. Is he perfect? Of course not. Do Tim and I disagree on occasion? We certainly do. But, on the whole, I think he’s the right person for the job, and I think his compensation is reasonable and appropriate.

    August 17 Board Meeting: Agenda

    It’s the eve of our August board meeting, so I’ll be brief. Below are the highlights (not all-inclusive) of what’s on the docket for Thursday, August 17.  The final agendas with supplemental information can be found at the following links: Committee Meeting Packet and Board Meeting Packet.

    The Big Stuff

    Committee Meetings
    Committee meetings for the remainder of the year will move from Thursdays to Tuesday mornings at 8:30am. We are also going to forego holding closed pre-committee meetings. Instead, those discussions will be held with the full board at the Tuesday committee meetings. This is a good change. It will expand the amount of time the board (when we’re all together) will spend on each issue while eliminating duplicative presentations. Smaller committees will meet on an ad-hoc basis, primarily when there’s a need to consider refinements to any of our policies.

    CEO Compensation Adjustment
    We’ll be discussing President Tim Burke’s performance in closed session following our committee meeting, and then we’re scheduled to vote on a raise for Tim during the 4pm board meeting. I haven’t seen a summary of his performance review nor a proposed % increase yet.

    Approval of Two Labor Union Contracts
    Two of the three unions have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract. Highlights of the agreement:

    • It’s a five-year agreement (they are normally three years)
    • Increases in health insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums (individuals only)
    • Employee contributions to the pension plan gradually climb from 6.7% in 2018 to 9.0% in 2022
    • OPPD increases the % contribution to pension cash balance plan for most age+yrs of service categories
    • 3% per year increase in wages

    Other Stuff

    We’ll hear a variety of other reports and take action on a few things as well. Here’s the brief summary of a few (again, not all-inclusive):

    • Update on employee engagement survey results
    • Voting on whether or not OPPD is compliant with Strategic Directive 5: Customer Satisfaction
    • Voting to allow management to forego closed bid proceedings for repair of a transmission line damaged during the June 16 tornados. (Bids will still be obtained.)
    • Voting to give management authority to exercise eminent domain if necessary on two upcoming new transmission projects.

    There are a variety of matters we’ll hear related to finances, retirement plan funding, legal fees, and claim settlements. And we’ll get our standard update on nuclear matters as well.

    Recap of July Policy Workshop

    On July 24, our board and several members of senior management retreated to UNO’s Community Engagement Center to revisit several aspects of our work during our board policy workshop. There was a ton of work that went into defining the purpose, flow and priorities for the day – minutia that I won’t bore you with here.

    I do, however, want to provide a quick update on what we discussed and what our next steps are likely to be. The tidbits below are not all-inclusive.

    Affirming & Tightening Governance

    The morning was primarily spent re-affirming our approach to board governance and considering tweaks and refinements to how we function, our roles as directors, the role of senior management, and so on. Generally speaking there wasn’t much to hash over and the discussion flowed pretty smoothly.  

    A few months ago, the board and 11 members of senior management completed a governance assessment. The results were compared to an identical assessment completed in 2015 (prior to the creation of our suite of policies). As you can see in the results of that assessment, there’s been some great progress made. It was particularly helpful for me (as a new board member) to review those results and listen to the discussion that unfolded.

    One of the most beneficial conversations was focused on our processes for reviewing and refining the Strategic Directive policies (SDs). We’re likely to make changes to this process soon, which will really help us determine when and how potential revisions to SDs will be considered.

    Revisions to Strategic Directives

    In the afternoon, we turned our attention to five (of the fifteen) Strategic Directives for in-depth discussions about whether or not changes are necessary. Taken individually, here’s the outcome:

    SD2: Competitive Rates

    The discussion largely focused on our target for rates to be 20% below the regional average. We discussed where that figure came from, who we are comparing ourselves to, and whether or not we should make the target time bound (e.g., by 2022).

    Decisions and Next Steps: No decisions were made. SD will go back to an ad hoc committee for further review. The ad hoc committee will make recommendations on changes for the full board to discuss, refine, and eventually approve.

    SD5: Customer Satisfaction

    There was much to discuss here. The current focus of this SD is its measurement on the J.D. Power annual customer satisfaction survey for residential customers. So it excludes commercial customers, which we learned was appropriate. We also spent time discussing how we might get more transactional information on how we’re doing with regard to our more intimate interactions with customer-owners (e.g., transmission projects, solar customer installation processes, shut offs, etc.).

    Decisions and Next Steps: No decisions were made. SD will go back to the Public Information Committee for further review. The Committee will make recommendations on changes for the full board to discuss, refine, and eventually approve.

    SD7: Environmental Stewardship

    Without any question, the board received far more customer-owner feedback on SD7 than we did on any of the other SDs. The board’s discussion largely focused on the current metric of a long-term goal of 30% of retail sales from renewable energy sources. A few directors offered perspectives on what a new goal might be. We also discussed whether or not other measurable indicators might be appropriate to include.

    Decisions and Next Steps: No decisions were made. SD will go back to the Public Information Committee for further review. The Public Information Committee will make recommendations on changes for the full board to discuss.

    SD9: Resource Planning

    We held a fairly technical conversation about how OPPD approaches resource planning, which, in short, includes but is not limited to an Integrated Resource Plan every five years and ongoing resource planning throughout the course of each year. I was particularly interested in how we incorporate planning for distributed energy resources (DER), and we held a robust and informative discussion about how that occurs. It included a discussion of our current Strategic Initiative focused on the Integrated Energy Marketplace. We also discussed the importance of and extent to which customer-owner input is considered when resource planning. 

    Decisions and Next Steps: We won’t be making any changes to SD9 in the short term (<6 months). It’s on our annual schedule for review and will come back to the board in May 2018. We’ll know much more about the Integrated Energy Marketplace work at that time (as well as all of the OPPD Strategic Initiatives) and will be in a better position to consider changes then.

    SD13: Stakeholder Outreach and Communication

    OPPD Management came in with a draft of revised language for this SD, which was really helpful. It’s being totally rewritten to more broadly consider OPPD’s efforts related to outreach and engagement across all business lines (rather than its current focus on using energy wisely, energy efficiency, and safety).

    Decisions and Next Steps: The new policy will be word-smithed and tightened up, and then it will come before the board for approval.

    An Overarching Theme

    One issue I haven’t mentioned yet but that was brought up in all of our aforementioned SD discussions was that of OPPD’s programs to help its customer-owners pursue energy efficiency. It’s currently mentioned in many SDs. I’m sure it will be part of the discussion as we consider changes to these and other SDs.


    An important takeaway for me and all OPPD customer-owners is that we will likely soon have a clearer process for refining SDs (and other board policies) in the future. Furthermore, there is much work to be done with respect to revisions to SDs 2, 5 and 7, and the public will be given ample opportunities to weigh in as we discuss all refinements in the coming months.

    Finally, I want to give a huge shout out to Kim Tracy (Corporate Secretary) and Scott Focht (Senior Director Business Strategy & Deployment), who did a great job pulling the workshop together and herding a heckuva lot of cats. They did a great job!

    June 15 Board Meeting Agenda

    Here’s a quick synopsis of the board meeting agenda for Thursday, June 15.

    The board meeting proper (where we actually vote on matters) is pretty straightforward. We have three action items.

    SD-15: Enterprise Risk Management Monitoring Report
    As a reminder, the board is asked to vote on whether OPPD is “sufficiently compliant” with each of its strategic directives on an annual basis. This month we're reviewing SD15. See relevant documents here.

    Retirement Plan Appointment of Investment Manager
    One of our most important roles as board members is that we hold fiduciary responsibility for the organization. Part of which means we vote on appointments of investment managers. In this case, we’re being asked to approve the appointment of Harrison Street Real Estate Capital and PGIM Real Estate as private real estate investment managers for OPPD’s retirement plan. See relevant documents here.

    Fort Calhoun Station Dry Cask Storage Campaign
    There are 944 fuel assemblies in “wet storage” at Fort Calhoun that will need to be transferred into dry storage. The Board is being asked to authorize management to negotiate and enter directly into a contract without bringing it back to the board for approval. Once the contract is signed, management will report back to the board as an information item. See relevant documents here.

    There are several other items that will be discussed during our 10am committee meeting. Here’s the committee meeting package. Here are the highlights:

    • Our standard nuclear oversight committee and decommissioning reports
    • Our standard monthly financial update
    • We’ll hear a state legislative update, which will mostly consist of a summary of the interim studies planned
    • Summary of four contracts over $500k that were issued in May. They include:
      • $2.5 million to Motorola for 2017 portable radios & repeaters upgrade
      • $600k to the NDEQ for Nebraska Air Emission 2017 Fees for Nebraska City Station
      • $1.2 million to Westinghouse for decommissioning fuel characterization services
      • $1.5 million to McKinsey for an integrated energy platform contract. I learned a bit about this scope of work, and it looks like it might be really interesting.
    • Report on severance agreements executed due to decommissioning at Fort Calhoun
    • We’ll receive another update on how the July 24 board retreat is shaping up. As a reminder, we will be revisiting and potentially refining some of our policies. If you have any comments or questions about OPPD's strategic directives, please let me know. I would greatly appreciate input and feedback.

    In closed session, we will receive updates on the following:

    • Union negotiations
    • Wind purchase power
    • Corporate officers compensation
    • Quarterly Enterprise Risk Management update

    May 11 Board Meeting: Agenda

    Here are the goods for May 11 board meeting. As always, this is a draft. I'll share the final agenda once it's firmed up. It will be here once available. 

    CFO Hire
    We'll be discussing Tim Burke's recommended hire for CFO in closed session and then voting on his/her compensation during the board meeting. I'm excited we're moving forward on what is undoubtedly a very critical hire. Here's a recent OWH story about the finalists

    Union Negotiations
    We'll be getting an update on the status of negotiations in closed session. The current contract expires on May 31, 2017.

    Strategic Directive 2: Competitive Rates
    As a reminder, the board is asked to vote on whether OPPD is 'sufficiently compliant' with each of its strategic directives on an annual basis. This month we're reviewing SD2: Competitive Rates. 

    Board Policy Workshop Session Framework
    The board will be spending a full day together on July 24 to review and refine our strategic directives. I've asked several questions the past few months to try and get a better understanding for how the day will be structured and informed, how it will flow, and what will occur afterwards. We'll learn more about the session framework at our May 11 committee meeting. 

    If you have any comments or questions about OPPD's strategic directives, please let me know. I would greatly appreciate input and feedback.   

    More Topics
    Other board action items include:

    • Approving a contract to purchase steel transmission structures for the Elkhorn River Valley Transmission Project (≈ $4.4million)
    • Approving a contract for the purchase of two substation autotransformers (≈ $4million)

    There are several reporting items (only discussed in committee (10am) meeting, not at the 4pm board meeting) to note. They include:

    • 1Q legal fees and expenses report (≈$318k)
    • 1Q report of retirement plan funds performance
    • Report of claims settlements in excess of $50,000 (there were two)
    • Our standard nuclear oversight committee and decommissioning reports
    • Legislative update
    • Contracts in excess of $500,000 (one to En Point Technologies Sales LLC for a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement)
    • Siting and routing update
    • Nebraska City 2 ash landfill update 

    Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you, both in advance of and following the meeting(s). or 402-681-9458

    April 13 Board Meeting: Agenda

    Update as of 4/12/17: Please note, the final committee meeting and board meeting agendas are now final and have changed slightly. You can find them at the links below:

    Committee meeting agenda

    Committee meeting package (all the good stuff)

    Board meeting agenda (looks pretty light)


    Here's a quick update on what we're expecting (agendas are not final) to cover at the April 13 committee and board meetings. This is not an all-inclusive list, and it may change between now and Thursday. Once all materials are final, they'll be posted here.  

    Finance, Insurance and Audit
    We'll get our regular monthly financial report in committee meeting, discuss Board Linkage policy–3: Board-Internal Auditor Relationship and Governance Process policy–13: External Auditor Relationship, and in closed session will see the results of the Generation Portfolio Competitive Annual Assessment. 

    Public Information
    We will receive an update on state and federal legislation, and we will hear a monitoring report on SD-11: Economic Development and will be asked to vote on whether or not the district is sufficiently compliant. Note: timing of this review was set months in advance. In other words, it wasn't intentionally scheduled to align with last week's exciting Facebook announcement.

    Systems Management
    I joked last month about how the sexiest stuff is in the Systems Management committee, but this month that's actually true. In addition to the basic stuff (contracts over $500,000 and awarding a contract for Sarpy County Units 4 & 5 Control System Upgrade), we'll hear two updates in closed session. The first is on condemnation proceedings on the Midwest Transmission Project and the Elkhorn River Valley Transmission Project. Also in closed session will be an EPA update. Finally, we'll be asked to vote on changes to Board-Staff Linkage policy 12: Delegation to the President and Chief Executive Officer – Transmission, wholesale Electricity, fuel and Other Energy Transactions.    

    With respect to the update on condemnation proceedings, we heard some really compelling testimony at our March board meeting regarding this issue. I'm anxious to learn more about what happened, what's next, and how we're addressing any issues that have arisen. To see and hear that March testimony, fast forward to 1:25:15 in the video of the meeting. Actually, before you get there, take a pit stop at 1:18:25 - I think you'll find it worth your while. 

    In committee closed session, we'll get an update on how negotiations with the unions are progressing, and we will hear the background on corporate officer compensation adjustments. We'll be asked to approve the latter at the board meeting. We will receive monitoring reports on Governance Process policies 1 through 14 and Board-Staff Linkage policies 1 through 6, and we will be asked to vote on whether we're sufficiently in compliance. Six of eight board members completed a survey recently wherein we were asked on a policy-by-policy basis if the board is in compliance and if revisions should be made. Should be an interesting discussion.    

    Nuclear Oversight
    On the nuclear side, we'll receive our monthly update on decommissioning progress. 

    Committee meeting is from 10 - 2pm (we'll be in closed session over lunch). Board meeting starts at 4pm. Both meetings are live streamed if you can't make it down.