Zachry Group hired to build Omaha utility’s hydrogen-capable, gas-fired peaker plants

Image credit Wartsila

Omaha Public Power District has awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for its two new planned gas-fired power stations which will support its future solar energy goals.

Zachry Group will lead the building of both the Standing Bear Lake and Turtle Creek stations. The Nebraska municipal utility hopes to get both gas-fired power plants, totaling 600 MW in capacity, up and running by 2023.

Design work is underway and major construction expected to begin on both projects in the first quarter of 2022, according to Zachry. Standing Bear Lake Station will be a 150-MW facility in Douglas County, while the 450-MW Turtle Creek will be located in Sarpy County.

“We are thrilled to once again work with Omaha Public Power District on this important project that supports their net zero carbon goals,” said Scott Duffy, Senior Vice President, Business Development at San Antonio, Texas-based Zachry. “This work aligns well with Zachry Group’s long-standing resume in the power market, our full suite of engineering and construction capabilities, and our focus on helping our customers’ maintain reliability and resiliency as their customers and communities grow.”

Both projects are part of OPPD’s Power with Purpose initiative first outlined in 2019. Power with Purpose was centered around 400 to 600 MW in solar installations, but also added gas-fired capacity for balancing and backup. Standing Bear Lake will be a reciprocating engine site offering quick response capabilities, while Turtle Creek was planned as a simple cycle turbine power plant.

These plants are considered flexible generation which back up the solar installations. Siemens Energy was contracted to provide two SGT6-5000F gas turbines to power the Turtle Creek peaker plant.

Those turbines can be adapted to run on 30-percent hydrogen mix, which would lower the carbon emissions even further. Siemens hopes to have all of its gas turbines capable of running on 100-percent hydrogen (which does not emit carbon dioxide) by 2030.

OPPD selected Wärtsilä to deliver nine of its multi-fuel 18V50DF internal combustion engines to power the Standing Bear Lake Station. Those RICE engines can also be adapted to run on hydrogen blends, according to reports.

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