Utility tackles tough topics with transparency

The doors of the utility opened wider in June 2015 when OPPD launched The Wire to demystify just what goes on day-in, day-out at the utility.

In its first full year, nearly 26,000 users visited the site, viewing 220 posts comprised of stories, videos, infographics, photo galleries and viewer comments. Visitors viewed an average 3.29 pages per session, with an average session duration of just under 6 minutes.

And not surprisingly, many of the most popular stories revolved around tough – and often controversial – decisions that OPPD’s board and senior management had to make to remain viable in a drastically changing industry.

MISC_The Wire turns 1, NOThe top story: “It’s an end of an era at North Omaha Station,” posted March 18, 2016, to relay news of the retirement of the first of three coal units this year. The plant had been a fleet workhorse since the mid-1950s, but the step was needed to meet stricter environmental regulations and pave the way for more renewable energy. The story had 3,114 page views in just over three months on the site, and it topped all content after just two days.

The story touched both environmentalists who had vocalized their desire to close the coal units at OPPD board meetings in recent years, as well as employees and retirees who worked tirelessly over the years to operate and maintain the units. A number of site visitors left comments on the story.

“It was a great experience in my life to work at such a historical and interesting plant. In my years at North Omaha, we faced many challenges had many rewards. My family and I will always have a great deal of gratitude for North Omaha Station and the people that made OPPD what it is,” wrote Vince Timmerman, who retired in 2012 as a shift supervisor – Omaha Stations after 31 years.

The following stories round out the top five:

  1. “How is OPPD transforming the way it does business,” April 11, 2016,
  2. How does that work? Nebraska City Station thaw shed, Feb. 8, 2016
  3. How does that work? Decommissioning methods, June 16, 2016
  4. Plan recommends decommissioning FCS, May 12, 2016

Delivering timely news

“The Wire has allowed us to tell our stories for the past year now in ways the media does not, humanizing OPPD and its employees” said Laura King-Homan, communications specialist who serves as editor for The Wire. “Our readership numbers continue to go up, and that shows there is real interest in what we do.”

King-Homan added that the low-cost technology behind the site allows OPPD to get out important information more quickly than in the past, keeping customers, employees and others informed and making good on a promise to provide transparency.

OPPD created the site to provide timely, relevant and transparent information, which is what employees and customers told us they wanted through a communication audit, focus groups and community stakeholder meetings.

The site checks all of those boxes. It features a wide range of stories concerning OPPD, employees and projects, as well as industry topics related to what we do: make and provide energy. The site also includes standing features, such as The Big Number, How Does That Work?, Powerful Life, OPPD at Work and Flashback.

Spreading via social media

Thousands of visitors shared or liked the stories on social media channels, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

MISC_Wire turns 1, troubleshootersAmong the most shared stories by the end of June were Plan recommends decommissioning FCS, (May 12, 2016), 193 LinkedIn shares; How OPPD is transforming the way it does business, (April 11, 2016), 112 LinkedIn shares; 54 Facebook likes; A stranger saved her life, bonding them forever, (Nov. 23, 2015), 402 Facebook likes; It’s an end of an era at North Omaha Station, (March 18, 2016), 301 Facebook likes, 58 LinkedIn shares; and OPPD troubleshooters find, fix variety of issues, (Feb. 2, 2016) 110 Facebook likes, 79 LinkedIn shares.

The Wire can be accessed on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone: 82 percent of users accessed the site on a desktop computer; 18 percent via a smartphone or tablet.

If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to The Wire news feed that pushes out top stories twice a month. The sign-up is located at the top right of the homepage.

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