Federal regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gases pose the biggest challenge to keeping electricity affordable in Nebraska, according to a report released Monday.
The report, “Public Power: Is It Still Affordable?,” analyzed the state’s public power industry to determine its costs and benefits to taxpayers, consumers and businesses in the state.
Ernie Goss, a Creighton University economics professor, did the research for the Platte Institute for Economic Research, an Omaha-based think tank.
He found that Nebraska’s average price for electricity is the third-lowest in the region, but rates grew at a much faster pace than neighboring states’ rates between 2007 and 2013.
The report said the state’s ability to control future rate increases is threatened by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan regulations.
Those rules target coal power plants, which produce about one-third of the nation’s carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change. As such, the rules would have a greater impact on Nebraska than on other states because of the state’s heavy reliance on coal to produce electricity.
Nebraska’s goal under the regulations — to cut carbon dioxide 40 percent by 2030 — represents the highest hurdle in the nation, the Platte Institute said. The national target is a 32 percent reduction compared with 2005 levels.
However, Mark Becker, a spokesman for the Nebraska Public Power District, called the report’s assumptions about the impact of the EPA rules “superficial and premature.”
He said the costs can’t be known until Nebraska develops its reduction plan. He also said NPPD already has been working to cut its carbon footprint.
In the report, Goss said the state’s utilities could better handle the costs of complying with the regulations if they were no longer public and were taken over by larger private utilities.
Nebraska is the only state that gets virtually all of its electricity from public utilities rather than privately owned power companies.
The state joined 23 other states in filing a legal challenge to the EPA plan in October.
See the article here.
- On December 30, 2015