There will be no hike in electric rates of wholesale and retail customers of the Nebraska Public Power District, including North Platte, the board of directors decided Friday. NPPD President/CEO Pat Pope told the board that a proposed 2-percent rate increase in September has been reduced to zero for the upcoming year. Pope told the board several factors have made this possible, including:
• Statewide efforts by management and employees to reduce costs without compromising reliability or safety.
• Higher than expected summer revenues.
• Reduction of personnel by nearly 50 positions from the District’s annual budget.
• Ongoing efficiency improvements.
“Staff has done an excellent job in reducing unnecessary expenses to get us to the point we will not need an increase,” Pope explained. “In the past, cost pressures have forced us to raise rates. Today, we are in a period where rigorous efforts to reduce expenses, better than anticipated revenues, and slightly less cost pressures are giving NPPD an opportunity to avoid a rate increase.”
Earlier this year, NPPD alerted its wholesale and retail customers it would likely need a projected a 3.5 percent increase. However, cost cutting measures were able to reduce that proposed increase to two percent. Continued efficiencies and a strong financial summer closed the gap to zero.
“The bottom line is we have had a much better year in 2013 than we budgeted, and staff has done an excellent job in scrubbing budgets and reducing costs without compromising reliability and safety," Pope said. "We will be doing everything we can to keep future rate increases to a minimum and help keep public power in Nebraska as competitive as possible.”
As a public power utility, NPPD rates are set to cover costs. Revenues are used to pay operating expenses and make necessary investments in maintenance, construction, and system upgrades. Rates do not include a profit margin, NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said.
NPPD’s wholesale customers include rural public power districts and municipalities such as North Platte that buy their power from NPPD and distribute it to their electric customers.
Retail customers receive an electric bill directly from NPPD.