Electric utility’s problems don’t unplug one of state’s top public paychecks


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

He’s one of the highest paid public employees in the state with one of the most important jobs in the state.

Gary Gates

Gary Gates, President and CEO of the Omaha Public Power District, is in charge of one of Nebraska’s two nuclear power plants.

But until recently Fort Calhoun Station, 20 miles north of Omaha and off-line for nearly three years, was an OPPD black eye.

And although it’s back up and running, as far as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is concerned, the reactor remains a work in progress.

At the same time as Nebraska Watchdog has reported, the past year also found Moody’s bonding agency downgrading the utility’s credit rating from Aa1 to Aa2.

According to Moody’s August 27 credit report, OPPD’s decision to put Fort Calhoun’s operation into the hands of Exelon“may help to mitigate some of this risk moving forward but operating the facility remains a key risk for OPPD.”

“The extended outage highlights the higher business risk associated with full ownership of a single nuclear power plant, especially given the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s increased scrutiny of nuclear power plants in a post-Fukushima environment.”

Given Fort Calhoun’s recent checkered past does Gates deserve his hefty six figure paycheck?

KFAB’s Gary Sadlemyer (see video above) asked Nebraska Watchdog’s Joe Jordan to weigh in.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org and listen to Joe every Monday morning at 7:40 on KFAB radio in Omaha.

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