Having low-cost reliable power is a benefit of public power in Nebraska. All electric consumers want to have the lights work when they flip the switch. Now ask yourself do you care if that electricity was produced by coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind or solar? Is that important to you? Are you willing to pay more for electricity that is generated using a certain fuel?

 

            Maybe you’re like me and just want your electricity to be as cheap as possible. It doesn’t matter what fuel source is used to create those electrons. You just want it to be cheap and reliable.

 

            Maybe you’re on a fixed budget and are looking at ways to save money wherever you can. My electric bill is just one of several I receive and pay every month. It’s not the most expensive bill I pay. That honor belongs to my cellular phone bill. And it’s not the least expensive one either. That one is my Internet bill.

 

            I can’t really imagine not having any of the services I pay for each month. They’ve just become part of my family’s daily life. But I do whatever I can to try to keep them as low as possible.

 

            You might have seen information about how privatizing our public power system in Nebraska could lower your electric bill. They promise to lower the price you pay for electricity, up to 20 percent in some cases.

 

            We hear you, we understand why that sounds wonderful. But they don’t explain that you’re likely to see an increase in your other costs, which could actually increase your monthly electric bill. Several states have been operating under deregulation but are returning to regulation because costs have shot through the roof. The private power companies that are providing electricity have increased the customer charges.

 

            In Nebraska we rely on coal to generate a large portion of the electricity we use every day. While the cost of coal is cheap, the cost to deliver it is what is expensive. All the infrastructure to get it to the power plant is what costs the most. The tracks, the locomotives, the people who work to run the system, all come with a cost.

 

            The same goes for the electric industry. People need to understand that the infrastructure is what costs. We have to put poles in the ground, run the wires, keep the system operating around the clock. We do this by using a diverse mix of fuel sources and working hard to keep all our costs as low as possible.

 

            I watch those HGTV shows where people build a tiny house and plan to use a few solar panels to meet their electric needs. If that solar roof top unit is going to provide your power 24/7, then good luck and God bless. But in reality it won’t work for most of us. Most solar operates at about 20 percent of its capacity. And while the price to install solar has come down over the years, installing a unit with enough capacity to meet all our household needs is quite expensive. Ultimately the cost per kilowatt-hour will be higher than the cost your local public power district or electric cooperative will charge you.

 

            So when you hear someone say “Trust me, I can do it cheaper,” remember that might not actually be the case.