Saving Energy with the Green Brothers

By admin On July 28th, 2009 in Uncategorized /
A lot of people have a lot of good ideas about how to save energy.  So, who should listen to and what should you do?  Well, sometimes, you know a bad idea when you hear one.  Click on the thumbnail for some examples of both the good, and the bad, from the Green Brothers…


By the way, there’s a particular error in here (besides the tip for saving water). If you think you’ve found it, send us an e-mail at — tell us what you think the error is, and include your name, mailing address and T-shirt size. If you’re the first one to identify the mistake we’re talking about, we’ll send you an T-shirt. And watch for more tips, good and bad, from the Green Brotehrs right here on


Prius Uses Juice, Just a Little Gas

By admin On July 24th, 2009 in Uncategorized /

As we’ve noted in earlier postings, OPPD has a number of hybrid vehicles in its fleet, including a couple plug-in hybrids our mechanics converted themselves.  They’re racking up the miles and saving gasoline as they go.  Just yesterday, one of our guys (Jeff) drove a plug-in hybrid from Omaha to Wayne, NE, for a Power Drive teacher’s seminar.  The converted Toyota Prius ran on all battery power up to speeds of 35 mph.  Above 35, it ran on the gas engine (with some battery assist) and got better than 80 mpg.  Sweet.  And, according to Jeff, cool and quiet, as well. 


Get Smart on Smart Grids

By admin On July 22nd, 2009 in Uncategorized /

There’s a lot of discussion these days about “smart grid” technology, and a lot of people wonder what it is and why they should care.  There are a number of advantages to smart grids – for example, using smart grid technology, a utility will often be able to reduce the number of customers affected by a power outage, and restore service more quickly for those who are affected.  There are also some major implications where development and delivery of renewable energy resources are involved – the following article from has some pretty interesting information.

Energy 101: What Is a Smart Grid?

by Ariel Schwartz

In last week’s Energy 101 column, we took a look at the basics of where our energy comes from now. This week, we’re examining the future of energy—specifically, the smart grid. To recap, a smart grid is essentially a modernization of the transmission and distribution aspects of the electrical grid. In terms of transmission, a smart grid makes it easier to deliver alternative energy sources like wind and solar from rural installations to city centers. Without transmission lines, alternative energies are stuck where they’re produced—oftentimes in the middle of nowhere.

One of the biggest smart grid transmission line projects in the works is the Green Power Express, a 3,000 mile wind power superhighway that will bring 12,000 megawatts of wind energy from rural areas in the Upper Midwest to cities in the Midwestern and Eastern States. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.

Power distribution is just as important as transmission capabilities in updating our electrical grid. A smart grid delivers electricity using digital technology that tracks power consumption with smart meters, special electrical meters that instantly transmit energy usage information to utilities via wireless networks. Smart meters also let us track our own energy use hour-by-hour on the Internet and with third-party computer programs. 

In order to account for the ever-increasing amount of intermittent energy sources (solar, wind, etc.) on the grid, utilities that distribute smart meters adjust prices based on the availability of these energy sources. In other words, prices will be higher when solar power is scant, and so on. In theory, this should reduce the pressure on the grid to produce energy during times of limited availability.

Many utilities have already begun transitioning to smart grids, but Boulder, Colorado has laid claim to the title of the first smart grid city. Boulder and Xcel Energy have already laid down over 100 miles of fiber optic cable and installed 15,000 smart meters. Once the system is completely in place, 10,000 Boulder residents will be able to track their energy use online. Later this year, Boulder will start up its peak pricing program, so residents can time their electricity use for when power is cheapest.

A few dozen residents will even get rooftop solar panels, a back-up battery system for emergencies and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) cars. The University of Colorado’s chancellor, for example, will have a solar photovoltaic system that feeds into a battery pack, which in turn can run the home’s security system, computers and refrigerator in case of a power outage. The battery pack also recharges the chancellor’s PHEV, and the car (and battery pack) can pump power back into the electrical grid if necessary. It sounds futuristic now, but don’t be surprised if your own home is decked out with these features in five or 10 years time.


Roadtrips and Tesla Roadsters

By admin On July 16th, 2009 in Uncategorized /

Those of you familiar with Power Drive have seen some pretty impressive all-electric vechicles compete on the track.  Now you have a chance to see a different type of all-electric vehicle — one that costs a little more to produce than those made by Power Drive’s high-school and college-level competitors.

The Metropolitan Community College (MCC) is hosting the Renew America Roadtrip next week, and the public is invited to get a closer look at some cool cars that are also energy efficient. The goal of the Renew America Roadtrip is to help raise awareness of renewable, sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives, and the Omaha event is one stop on a coast-to-coast drive for green charities. The event will include a press conference at 10 a.m. with Omaha mayor Jim Suttle and MCC officials on the topic of green economy jobs, specifically those for hybrid and electric automotive technicians and educational opportunities in renewable energies. 

The Roadtrip will feature Tesla Motor’s Roadster, an all-electric sports car. In addition, OPPD’s Prius (a plug-in hybrid conversion), which is cool, but not as cool as the Roadster, and MUD’s compressed natural gas vehicle will be on display for public viewing. Consumers are encouraged to learn how to incorporate and expand the use of alternative fuel vehicle technology in their homes and businesses as MCC begins to provide alternative fuel vehicle technician training. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Daniel Lawse, MCC coordinator of Sustainable Practices, at (402) 738-4564 or

Where: Metropolitan Community College, South Campus (27th and Q) – Mahoney Building - Auto Shop on the west end of campus.
When: Thursday, July 23, 9:30 to 11:00 A.M.


OPPD to Buy More Nebr. Wind Power

By admin On July 15th, 2009 in Uncategorized /

Omaha Public Power District has taken another step to increase its renewable energy supply with an agreement to buy 60 Megawatts (MW) of wind-generated electricity from a wind farm to be built in Richardson County in southeast Nebraska. The Power Purchase Agreement with Flat Water Wind Farm, LLC, is the largest purchase OPPD has made of wind-generated electricity. Flat Water Wind Farm, LLC, is a subsidiary of juwi Group/JW Prairie Wind Power, Lawrence, Kansas.

The contract calls for OPPD to buy wind energy from the new farm for twenty years once it is in service in mid to late 2010. Current plans for the wind farm call for forty General Electric 1.5 MW wind turbines in an area near Humboldt, Nebraska.

Finding wind in southeast Nebraska that will support cost-effective utility-scale wind farms is difficult. However, the developers of this facility found an area where the terrain and wind patterns combine to create wind that should allow the wind turbines to produce about 40 percent of their total capacity. This is enough for cost-effective large-scale wind energy.

The wind farm can be expected to produce annually the same amount of electricity as was used last year by 19,000 average residential customers.

Flat Water Wind Farm, LLC, responded to OPPD’s Request for Proposals last August for up to 80 MW of wind-generated electricity. Discussions with other respondents to the request are ongoing.

The purchase agreement brings OPPD’s amount of purchased wind energy to 95 MW, with 25 MW being purchased from a wind farm near Bloomfield, Nebraska, and 10 MW being purchased from a wind farm near Ainsworth, Nebraska. The purchase moves OPPD toward its goal of having 10 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020.