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Nebraska Public Power Utilities Make Progress In Restoring Power In Wake Of Storms

July 12, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
July 12, 2021

Public power utilities in Nebraska continued to make progress over the weekend in restoring power to customers in the wake of outages caused by severe storms that hit the state.

A storm that hit on the night of Friday, July 9, damaged transmission structures as well as local distribution structures in several communities and crews from across the state were called to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible, Nebraska Public Power District (NPDD) reported.

Over the weekend, crews continued restoration work in the hard-hit areas of Plattsmouth and Kearney, Neb., NPPD said. Broken poles and downed trees entangled in power lines continued to be a challenge, especially in Plattsmouth. Power has been restored in the Kearney area.

NPPD said that progress continued to be made in restoring power to the Plattsmouth area with approximately 300 customers still without power. Crews continued to work into the evening hours to restore as many customers as possible, but not all power will be restored, it said. Linemen were back working early Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and mutual aid crews made good progress Sunday on outages caused by historic, hurricane-force winds that ripped through the service area in the early morning hours Saturday. At its peak, the storm left 188,000 customers without power, OPPD said.

OPPD made significant progress on Saturday, its first restoration day — restoring more than 75,000 customers’ power — more than all outages that were restored following the 2017 Father’s Day tornado.

Because of the magnitude of this event, more than 500 people from OPPD, mutual aid partners and tree-trimming contractors continue to work in the field to make these repairs and re-energize lines, OPPD said on July 11.

The work began in the early morning hours Saturday and will continue 24 hours a day until all customers have power.

Soon after the storm, OPPD’s mutual aid partners reached out to offer help and assistance. “The outpouring was overwhelming and showed how committed the public power industry is to helping each other,” the utility noted.

The weekend storm is the largest in OPPD history, topping storms in 2017, 2008 and 1997. 

“The widespread nature of the severe weather damage has made this storm unique,” said Javier Fernandez, OPPD President and CEO, in a statement. “Rather than isolated outage areas, we have seen broad swaths of extensive tree damage, which can impact power lines and cause outages.”

The complex work involves first removing tree limbs tangled in lines, then making needed repairs to poles and equipment. In some locations, tops of power poles were snapped off or entire poles were flattened to the ground, OPPD said.

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