Columbus, Neb. – “Bitter, freezing cold.” That’s how some weather forecasters described the stretch of winter weather which blanketed Nebraska in mid-January. Even more frigid temps and icy conditions could return after the past few days of thaw.
Customers depend upon their heat pumps, furnaces and other heating units when it gets cold, and cold was the name of the game between Jan. 9 and Jan.16 when temperatures dropped from a high of 55 degrees on Jan. 9 to a high of only 9 degrees on Jan. 15. Temperatures below zero were common.
The Nebraska Public Power District could see the impact of cold temperatures in the production of electricity demanded of its power plants. Between Jan. 9-16, NPPD generated a total of 446,842 megawatts (MWs) of electricity to the grid for consumers to use.
More than 155,000 MWs of that was produced by Cooper Nuclear Station, which barely waivered off a consistent supply of 815 MWs. That’s enough power to serve more than 300,000 Nebraskans around the clock.
“Nuclear power is very advantageous,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Energy markets take advantage of nuclear power with its consistent supply, its reliability. Many consumers like it because it is carbon-free.”
Temperatures at 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 hit a high of less than 20 degrees, but there was little wind in Nebraska or neighboring states. Even the integrated energy market of the Southwest Power Pool, of which NPPD is a member along with utilities in 13 other Midwestern states, was producing 80 percent of its entire power supply with fossil fuel at that time.
“Nearly 93 percent of NPPD’s generation mix at 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 was produced by coal and nuclear,” said Pope. “A little more than five percent was coming from natural gas. Our eight wind farms which we buy from or own were collectively producing less than one percent of our generation due to lack of wind Renewable resources are an important part of NPPD’S generation mix, but our coal and nuclear generation are absolute requirements if we are to keep Nebraskans warm in winter.”