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NPPD won't raise electrical rates for 2014

NPPD won't raise electrical rates for 2014

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LINCOLN — The Nebraska Public Power District will not raise electrical rates in 2014 as had been proposed.

Cost-cutting measures, a reduction in 49 staff positions and stronger than anticipated summer revenues made a rate increase unnecessary, Pat Pope, NPPD's chief executive officer, said Wednesday.

“The bottom line is we have had a better year than budgeted,” Pope said during an NPPD board meeting.

As of Wednesday, NPPD officials were projecting a $24.5 million budget surplus at the end of the year.

The decision not to seek a rate increase was made before The World-Herald published a story Wednesday about the district's decision to send four upper managers to a professional conference in Arizona on NPPD's private plane, said Mark Becker, the district's spokesman.

The flight cost about $5,200, while the Omaha Public Power District and Lincoln Electric System spent less by flying their personnel to the conference via commercial airlines.

This is the first time since 2006 that NPPD has not raised rates to cover increased costs, said Mark Becker, NPPD's spokesman. As a public utility, NPPD's base rate for its roughly 600,000 retail and wholesale customers does not include a profit margin.

At the start of the year, NPPD raised rates by 3.75 percent. The district alerted customers that an additional 3.5 percent increase was likely for next year, but officials later downgraded the proposed increase to 2 percent.

Strong revenues this summer helped eliminate the need for a rate hike, Pope said. A summer that was somewhat hotter and drier than average prompted higher demand for electricity to provide cooling and irrigation.

Pope also credited statewide efforts by management and employees to reduce costs. In addition, 100 employees took a voluntary early retirement and 49 of those positions were eliminated.

The decision not to seek a rate increase was made before The World-Herald published a story Wednesday about the district's decision to send four upper managers to a professional conference in Arizona on NPPD's private plane, said Mark Becker, the district's spokesman.

The flight cost about $5,200, while the Omaha Public Power District and Lincoln Electric System spent less by flying their personnel to the conference via commercial airlines.

This is the first time since 2006 that NPPD has not raised rates to cover increased costs, said Mark Becker, NPPD's spokesman. As a public utility, NPPD's base rate for its roughly 600,000 retail and wholesale customers does not include a profit margin.

At the start of the year, NPPD raised rates by 3.75 percent. The district alerted customers that an additional 3.5 percent increase was likely for next year, but officials later downgraded the proposed increase to 2 percent.

Strong revenues this summer helped eliminate the need for a rate hike, Pope said. A summer that was somewhat hotter and drier than average prompted higher demand for electricity to provide cooling and irrigation.

Pope also credited statewide efforts by management and employees to reduce costs. In addition, 100 employees took a voluntary early retirement and 49 of those positions were eliminated.

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