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U.S. military helped keep heat and lights on for Nebraska town as temperatures plummeted




The nearby Offutt Air Base disconnected from the local commercial power grid and depended on electricity from two power plants on the bases for two days. He freed up enough power for the Omaha Public Power District and a pool of other power companies to keep things working for the people of Omaha.

Offutt is home to the US Strategic Command, which oversees US nuclear weapons and nuclear launch authorities. Given its importance, the power company already had a close relationship with the military commanders there, according to company president and CEO Timothy Burke. The power company went to the military this week for help.

Doug Wend, facility systems superintendent at Offutt Air Force Base, received a notification from the Omaha Public Electric District on Friday that they may need help obtaining electricity in the area. On Monday morning, as temperatures approached -20 degrees, they were “forced into critical and swift action because the situation had changed,” Wend told CNN.

Wend and his team disconnected the base from the commercial power grid and switched to electricity from two on-site power plants, he said.

This decision “has been instrumental throughout the region in helping us,” said Burke.

The military deal, along with other customers who also agreed to generate their own power, was enough to continue supplying the equivalent of 40,000 customers who could have suffered power outages as the intense cold saw demand. customers increase.

Offutt Air Force Base has been able to maintain power and continue operations thanks to the power plants on their base, which are only used under certain circumstances, including national emergencies, Wend said.

The interconnectivity of the utility and its customers in this region is often used during the hot summer months when demand is high, Burke told CNN. But the extremely cold temperatures made it necessary to ask large customers with their own alternative energy to lend a hand.

“We never really did it during the winter months,” he said.

The Air Force base is well integrated with the Omaha community and was happy to assist the local power plant, said Captain Bill Clinton, public affairs chief of the US Strategic Command.

“We’re always looking for ways to help the community because they help us in so many ways,” Clinton said.

By noon on Wednesday, Offutt Air Force Base reconnected to the commercial network, Wend said.

The power company reimbursed its helpers for the cost of fuel or other costs they might have incurred.

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