- :: Norris Public Power District
Norris PPD
606 Irving Street
Beatrice, NE 68310

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Rural Electric Systems are…Working for Nebraska


Public Power Works for Nebraska

Bruce Vitosh--General Manager and CEO

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Norris Public Power District customers have not experienced a rate increase for four consecutive years.  The District did not change any customer rates in 2014, 2015 and 2017.  Based on a cost of service analysis in 2016, certain customer and energy charges were modified to better match costs of service with collections from the various customer rate classes.  These rate schedule modifications included an increase in customer charges and a decrease in energy charges resulting in no overall net change in collections by the District.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the 2015 average retail price for residential electricity in Nebraska is the 10th lowest in the nation and average electric rates for all customers is 15th lowest. 

In spite of the low cost and reliable power that Nebraskans have realized over the years, a series of legislative bills were introduced during the 2017 Nebraska Legislative session on behalf of a private for-profit energy developer from Texas who is attempting to destabilize the public power industry in Nebraska by forcing retail choice into the state.

Depending on the type of ownership or governance, electric utilities may or may not be rate regulated.  The public power utilities and cooperatives in Nebraska are self-regulated for ratemaking purposes.  The locally elected City Councils and Boards of Directors perform the function of regulating electric rates.  The local City Council and Board meetings are open to the public and provide public notice of hearings for budgets and rate setting purposes.  Other states are regulated by state regulatory agencies or commissions.

Deregulated states include states with retail choice programs where rates can be strongly influenced by wholesale power prices.  These states allow end-use customers to choose their electricity provider (retail choice) and no longer have rate caps or other forms of regulatory protections that limit customers’ exposure to fluctuating wholesale market prices.

Retail choice began twenty years ago in the United States.  Twenty-three states with high electric rates believed that retail choice was the answer to reducing electric rates.  Nearly two decades later, there is little evidence that retail choice has yielded any significant benefits.  In fact, eight of these states suspended or repealed legislation regarding all or some portions of retail choice shortly after it was initiated.  For the 16 states that offer retail choice, 15 of those states have residential rates that are among the highest in the country.  All states with retail choice have residential rates that are higher than Nebraska with 14 of the states having rates that range from more than 20 percent to nearly double the rates in Nebraska.  The neighboring states of Nebraska do not offer retail choice. 

In 1997, deregulated or retail choice states had weighted average rates that were 2.8 cents per kilowatt-hour above regulated states, including Nebraska.  Retail choice combined with the divestiture of utility generating assets and exposure of end-use customers to fluctuating wholesale rates has resulted in an even larger gap in 2015, with deregulated states paying average rates that are 3.4 cents per kilowatt-hour more than regulated states.  The promise of lower rates in retail choice states has not materialized.

 Public power utilities are not-for-profit organizations governed by local electric customers who make local decisions that are in the best interest of customers over the long term.  Public power has served the state of Nebraska well for over eighty years and continues to provide competitive electric rates and safely generates and delivers power in the most reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. 

Norris Public Power District ©2017