Nebraska is an "all public power state." We do not have any investor-owned utilities providing electric service to consumers in the state. Nebraska's electric consumers receive their power from public power districts, electric cooperatives, municipal electric systems, joint action agencies or a combination of the above. Of the thirty-four members of the Nebraska Rural Electric Association, twenty-five are organized as public power districts (PPDs) or Rural Public Power Districts (RPPDs), and nine are organized as cooperatives.
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PPDs (and RPPDs) are locally-controlled political subdivisions of the
State of Nebraska, governed by an elected board of directors. Directors
serve for a term of six years and there is no limit on the number of
terms which can be served. Directors are elected at the general
election in November, appearing on the ballot along with all other
local, state, and federal officials.
As political subdivisions of the state, PPDs are subject to open meetings laws and public records requirements, and their property is exempt from taxation under the state's constitution. However, they do pay in-lieu-of-taxes and gross receipts taxes on sales within municipalities. Although they are political subdivisions of the state, they cannot levy taxes or issue bonds secured by tax funds. However, they can issue tax exempt revenue bonds to finance the construction of their facilities. All public power districts are prohibited by statute from selling their property to any private person, firm, or corporation engaged in the business of selling electricity for profit.
Cooperatives are private non-profit corporations and are governed by boards of directors elected at annual meetings of their members/consumers. Candidates do not appear on the general election ballot like public power district board candidates. Because cooperatives are organized under the laws for non-profit corporations, they are not subject to the same statutory requirements as PPDs. Open meeting laws and public records requirements do not apply to cooperatives. In addition, their property is not exempt from the property tax. However, they are not subject to in-lieu-of-taxes and gross receipts taxes. There are no restrictions on the sale of their assets to a for-profit corporation unless they obtained those assets from a PPD.
PPDs are organized under Chapter 70 of Nebraska's statutes. These statutes authorize PPDs to engage in the generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy. They may do so in cooperation with other PPDs, municipalities, other public agencies, or electric cooperatives. PPDs may also supply water for irrigation, construct and operate ethanol production facilities, and provide satellite television services in locations not served by cable television as of April 1987. Legislation enacted during the 1997 legislative session expanded the powers of PPDs. These added powers primarily include the ability to engage in additional service activities for commercial and industrial customers.
Cooperatives may also be organized under Chapter 70, or the state's Nonprofit Corporation Act, in Chapter 21 of our statutes. A cooperative, other than one organized under Chapter 70, can engage in any lawful business activity approved by their members and authorized in their Articles of Incorporation. This may include selling other forms of energy and providing telecommunications services, cable television, and selling and servicing residential appliances. Cooperatives organized under Chapter 70 are limited to providing the same products and services as PPDs.
Ten of NREA's members are members of and receive their power at wholesale from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., which is headquartered in Westminister, Colorado. Two are members of Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota. Tri-State G&T and Rushmore both are members of and have a power supply arrangement with Basin Electric Power Cooperative of Bismarck, North Dakota. All the rest of our members receive their power at wholesale from the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) either directly or as members of the Nebraska Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. (NEG&T). Both NPPD and NEG&T are headquartered in Columbus, Nebraska.