A new Platte Institute study finds many public power districts in Nebraska are facing challenges to keep electricity rates from rising faster than in neighboring states.
Jessica Herrman is the Institute’s director of research. She says a variety of factors are pushing electricity prices up for public power districts, including abundant supplies of natural gas.
“Our public utilities sell power in the wholesale market and they use those revenues to keep our rates low,” Herrmann tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Because natural gas prices are low, it’s kind of lowered the revenue that our utilities can get to keep those prices low. That has made a huge impact.”
Herrmann says the heavy reliance on coal means Nebraska will need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40% over the next 15 years under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan mandates.
“Going forward, it’s really going to make a major impact on our utility rate,” she says. “There’s just no way to meet it right now under the rule, unless we completely overhaul our utility system.”
The report also finds Nebraska utilities are not taking advantage of federal tax subsidies to move to wind power compared to neighboring states.
Among the regional findings is that only Missouri received fewer subsidies for alternative energy generation.