The $30 I spent this week on Halloween candy was a reminder of how it seems like the cost of everything around me is going up. My willingness to spend so much on candy has me questioning my priorities as I look at my electric utility bill. The $3.60 the average Nebraskan spends per day on electricity truly is an incredible value.
It only takes a short electric outage to begin to appreciate the value of a reliable source of electricity. I may not like it when I don’t always have adequate cell phone coverage or broadband access across the state, but I accept it. We are not so forgiving, however, with our electric service. An intermittent power supply would be considered unacceptable for most everyone. And what do we have to pay to ensure a reliable electric supply to our heaters and air conditioners, refrigerators, businesses, computers…$3.40 per day.
Infrastructure upgrades, increased fuel prices, and federal regulation are all driving forces in increasing electric rates, and these forces will continue to put pressure on electric utilities. All things being considered, however, rural public power providers have done a great job keeping costs down and our rates affordable. In fact, electric rates have only gone up one nickel per kilowatt hour since rural electrification brought electricity to the rural farms across Nebraska 75 years ago.
Nebraska’s not-for-profit public power model has served us well, and the value of public power is apparent in every small town across the state. From the jobs provided to the rural economy to the community service projects our rural electric member-systems perform to the taxes they pay which help to lower everyone’s tax burden, Nebraska’s rural electric member-systems truly are Working for Nebraska.