If there is one issue in the electric industry that gets more attention than all of the others it is the electric rates we all pay. Any electric rate increase will certainly be followed with a collective groan from ratepayers, myself included. Nobody likes to see their utility bill increase, but as rates inevitably go up, we should ask are my electric rates still a good value?

Recent articles in the state’s newspapers are quick to condemn any electric rate increases. Private, for-profit generation companies are quick to call for the privatization of our states public power model, but in the end when you compare Nebraska to other states, we have a lot to be envied. In fact, we pay the nation’s 7th lowest residential electric rates.

This month’s Working for Nebraska campaign highlights what a great value electricity is in our everyday lives. The campaign notes how far 10 cents will go when purchasing electricity. As I interviewed electric ratepayers this weekend, asking a woman holding a $4 cup a coffee what she thought about the value of her electric rates, it was clear to me that we have lost some perspective on the importance of electricity in our everyday lives and how much we get for about $3.60 on average each day.

When it comes to the electricity that we depend on every day, 10 cents can do a lot. 10 Cents will buy you 1,000 watt hours of electricity in Nebraska. This is enough electricity to run 16 60-watt incandescent light bulbs for one hour; or 100 similar LED light bulbs. For a single dime you can run your laptop for 20 hours or charge your cell phone for an entire year! 10 cents of electricity will wash three loads of laundry or run your air conditioner for an hour.

Considering the importance of electricity to our daily activities and the absolute necessity it has become in our high-tech society, if we were to sit down and assign a value to it, I suspect most of us would agree that it ranks higher than a daily cup of coffee or a drive thru hamburger. If you haven’t already, give it some thought, and when you do I suspect we will reach the same conclusion.  When it comes to the electric rates we pay and the value electricity provides, public power is doing a pretty good job for all of us.