- The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) wants to progressively increase its fixed monthly fee for residential and small business customers from its present $10.25 to $35 by January 2019, Midwest Energy News reports. The OPPD Board will consider the proposal on December 17.
- In the same proceeding, OPPD wants its Board to consider a progressive decrease in the per kWh charge to 28% below its present level by 2019 to balance out the new fixed fee. In a second proceeding on its 2016 corporate operating plan, the utility proposed a 4% average general rate increase.
- Bold Nebraksa, a coalition of consumers and environmentalists, has formed in opposition to the rate restructuring, and plans to petition the OPPD this week arguing that the “341%” fixed fee increase limits customers’ control over their bills and discourages distributed generation and energy efficiency.
Utilities across the country have argued that fixed charges help more fairly allocate infrastructure costs across their customer bases. In Nebraska, OPPD's move to increase its rates and add a fixed fee for residential and business customers is being met with resistance.
Bold Nebraska's petition argues that “customers who use less energy should pay less, and customers who use more energy should pay for the increased costs of generation and distribution.” The fixed fee, its says, discriminates against low-income customers and makes air pollution worse by encouraging energy inefficiency.
An OPPD spokeswoman told Utility Dive that the utility is open to discussion.
“We are aware of the petition and waiting for them to deliver it,” OPPD Spokeswoman Jodi Baker said. ‘We will listen to our stakeholders before making a rate decision.”
At least 26 monthly fixed charge increases for residential customers were being considered in the third quarter of 2015 across 18 states, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s quarterly review of solar policy proceedings.
The average requested fee increase was 70%, according to study co-author Benjamin Inskeep. Advocacy group Renew Wisconsin said that approved fixed monthly charge increases in the past year have averaged 35%.