Public Power Week Editorial, October 2008

October is nationally recognized as Public Power Month. In Nebraska, Public Power is a concept that has been in place since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 paved the way for reliable, affordable electricity for rural customers. Nebraska US Senator George Norris was a founder of the Rural Electrification Act, and he held a strong belief that reliable, low cost electrical service was a right for all Americans.

As part of Nebraska’s 100 percent public power system, Southern Power District operates based upon those same principles of reliable, affordable electricity. These two principles are under the close watch of our 14-member Board of Directors, who live right here in the area we serve. This “local control” makes up the third principle of the public power system, and it is a very customer-oriented way of doing business. Local leaders who are customers of the district are well aware of your desire for reliable electricity at the lowest cost possible, and with every decision they make, they have your needs in mind.

The electricity we distribute to our customers is not sold at a rate to line the pockets of private investors, but at a rate to cover our costs and make needed investments to our system for growth. At times, we do need to increase our rates. But careful planning takes place to assure that any additional cost collected in rates will only be applied to cover the cost to serve, as well as investments in infrastructure for future electrical needs.

In recent months, we have all felt the impact of rising costs…everything from a gallon of milk to a gallon of gasoline is consuming more of your hard-earned dollars. Your cost for electricity has also been increasing, even in our 100-percent public power state. The issues we face include rising fuel costs, rising demand for electricity, and potential legislation and cost effects of global warming. There is no question that these issues present us with great challenges—perhaps the greatest we will ever face. The demand for electric service is expected to increase 30% in the next 30 years, but nationally there is no plan in place to provide that service with any type of generation resource. This is why it is important for you to be involved in shaping future of Nebraska’s public power, and there is an opportunity for you to have a voice. Southern is engaged in a nationwide campaign to remind our nation’s leaders in Congress of the need to face these challenges while keeping affordability of electricity in mind. The effort is called “Our Energy, Our Future” and it encourages you to get involved in a dialogue with today’s leaders. You can start this dialogue by logging on to Southern’s website ( We urge you to take an interest and get involved, so that actions taken in response to global warming will balance our need for clean energy, affordable electricity and will be sustainable in a prospering American economy.

Regardless of the challenges before us, we would like you to know that at Southern, we will continue to hold steadfast to the values that make the customer-centered public power system valuable to you—local control, reliable service, and low cost. During these challenging times, isn’t it assuring to know that you still have control over one thing…YOUR ELECTRICAL SERVICE?

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