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Gwen Kautz, Dawson PPD General Manager

Gwen Kautz

General Manager

For much of my career, vision was a word I would use to describe others, but not myself. That changed when Dawson PPD spent three years working closely with The Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District. This collaboration forced me to look way past next month and even next year. It provided a clear view of a company prepared to handle the massive changes we’re seeing now. While the merger did not occur, it opened many other doors for Dawson PPD, transforming my understanding of long-term planning.

Trailblazers of Dawson PPD

The team at Dawson PPD has always been known as “trailblazers,” and the Dawson PPD board has never shied away from challenges or opportunities. This pioneering spirit is essential in navigating the modern energy landscape. In May, I discussed the ways Dawson PPD plans for adversity. This column is dedicated to informing our customers about how we plan for the future.

There are different components to future planning for a distribution power district. Here are the critical elements we focus on:

1. Local Planning: Safety, Load Growth, Technology, Reliability with Affordability

At the local level, our planning encompasses several key areas:

  • Safety and training: Ensuring the safety of our employees and the public is paramount. We invest in training and infrastructure to minimize risks and handle emergencies effectively.
  • Technology Changes: Embracing new technologies to enhance our service delivery and operational efficiency is a continuous effort. This includes smart grid technologies and renewable energy integrations that don’t negatively impact other customers.
  • Load Growth: Anticipating and planning for load growth is essential to meet the increasing demand for electricity in our service areas. We’ve seen unprecedented growth in our service territory.
  • System Integrity and Strength: Regular maintenance and upgrades are necessary to keep our infrastructure robust and resilient. Dawson PPD puts together a 5-year (rolling) work plan that encompasses new construction, system improvements and replacing pieces of the system that aren’t as reliable or safe.
  • Reliability and Affordability: Balancing reliability with affordability is a constant challenge. Rate studies held at regular intervals are imperative to planning. Our board and employees strive to provide consistent power at a reasonable cost.
2. Wholesale Provider Partnership

Our relationship with our wholesale provider is a critical aspect of our future planning. The last contract, signed in 2016, spans 20 years and was supposed to last until 2035. However, due to the rising costs of adding much-needed generation units, they are already seeking new contracts. This proactive approach ensures favorable financial terms can be secured for Nebraska Public Power District. Dawson PPD is part of the negotiating team which will shape the relationship and contract terms with NPPD. The key word in our contract talks has been flexibility.

3. Regulatory Changes

Changes at NPPD, our Nebraska legislature, as well as regional (Southwest Power Pool) or federal requirements (FERC or NERC), significantly impact our operations. Staying informed and compliant with these regulations is essential. We actively engage with industry groups to advocate for policies that benefit our customers and the broader community.

4. Financial Impacts and Mitigation Plans

Every aspect of our future planning comes with a price tag. Controlling costs while investing in necessary infrastructure and technology is a delicate balance. Our financial strategies include:

  • Cost Management: Implementing measures to manage and reduce operational costs.
  • Investment in Innovation: Investing in innovative solutions that can drive long-term savings and efficiency.
  • Risk Mitigation: Developing comprehensive risk mitigation plans to protect our financial health against unforeseen challenges.

A Future-Oriented Vision

In conclusion, planning at Dawson PPD is a multifaceted endeavor that requires foresight, adaptability, and a commitment to our core values. By focusing on local needs, securing advantageous wholesale contracts, staying ahead of regulatory changes, and managing financial impacts, we are positioning Dawson PPD to serve our customers in a rapidly evolving energy landscape. Our dedication to these principles ensures that we remain trailblazers, ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.

This vision is not just about the next month or year; it’s about building a resilient and sustainable future for our customers. At Dawson PPD, we are committed to lighting the way forward, today and for generations to come.

OTHER NEWS

Dawson PPD plans substation work

Dawson PPD plans substation work

Two rural Dawson Public Power District substations will be getting upgrades after the 2024 irrigation season. Sub 26, located southwest of Gothenburg, will be upgraded as part of a voltage conversion. Sub 35, located northeast of Gothenburg, is being improved to...

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