Case Studies

Nebraska

Record-breaking campaign contributions, sketchy donations, and a heavy reliance on coal show what happens when elected politicians run utilities

Nebraska is the only state in the country with an electric grid wholly owned and managed by government power districts. And it started out that way, back in 1882 when a government-controlled utility was the only way to electrify Nebraska’s large, rural landscape. It was a process that took well into the 1930s.

If only they could have known…

After 140 years with elected politicians at the helm:

“One of the chief reasons that power rates are low in Nebraska is that our elected boards prioritize lower rates in response to the consumers’ demand for low rates. This focus on low rates contributes to decisions made regarding fuel mix, and Nebraska’s heavy reliance on low-cost coal is partly a function of Nebraska’s focus on low costs. A focus on low costs also impacts investment in long-term capital, and some maintenance gets deferred in order to keep rates low.”
— Commissioner Crystal Rhoades from the Nebraska Public Service Commission in a letter submitted to the Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology committee