NPA Board Members Speak on Value of Public Power at Nebraska Chamber Event

Nebraska’s low electric rates and high reliability create a competitive environment that supports economic development in our state, NPA representatives told attendees at the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual conference, held in Lincoln January 30. Nebraska’s locally owned utilities are committed to the growth of Nebraska’s economy as demonstrated by their participation in local, state and regional economic development organizations and projects, the speakers added.
“For 2014, Nebraska’s electric rates for industrial customers are projected to be meaningfully lower than the regional average industrial electric rate,” Timothy Burke, vice president of Customer Service & Public Affairs at the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), said in a lunch-time address (see chart below).

The Cornhusker State also has fewer electric outages than the national average. When outages do occur, locally owned utilities in Nebraska restore power more rapidly than other utilities in the region, added John McClure, general counsel for the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) (see graphs below).


Burke said lower rates, fewer outages and faster restoration times all were a result of the customer focus of Nebraska’s electric utility providers. “Whether it’s a municipal utility, a rural public power district or an electric cooperative, all Nebraskans are served by locally owned electric utilities,” Burke said. “Because our owners are our customers, Nebraska’s electric utilities are focused on low costs, high service and operating in an environmentally respectful manner. Profit is not a consideration that enters into our decision-making.”
Members of NPA have invested more than $2.5 billion in current and planned wind power generation since the late-1990s, McClure said. That investment trend has accelerated dramatically in recent years, with wind power generating capacity expected to more than quadruple since 2010. When four planned wind farms come online over the next three years, the state will have about 1,300 megawatts (MW) of wind power in its generating portfolio by 2016 (see graphic). 

By 2016, wind power capacity will play a larger role in the state electricity mix than nuclear power, the NPA representatives said.
Low rates, high reliability and environmental stewardship all shape the relationship that Public Power utilities have with their customer-owners, McClure and Burke said. Nebraska’s electric utilities have some of the highest residential customer satisfaction in the nation. As the electric industry continues to change, one thing that remains the same in Nebraska is the commitment of Public Power utilities to continue providing quality service and high value to their customer-owners.
Burke said the talk was well received by the 75 attendees at lunch, several of whom said they were unfamiliar with the accomplishments of the state’s electric utilities. A few attendees said NPA should be more active in telling the Public Power story, as it is not well understood by the state’s businesses.