Lower electricity rate proposed for new and expanding businesses

Businesses looking to move to Nebraska could receive an economic development rate on electricity under a bill discussed in a Natural Resources Committee hearing Feb. 1.

LB1043, introduced by Schuyler Sen. Chris Langemeier, would provide a five-year economic development rate to incent businesses to move to the state. Local businesses looking to expand their operations also would qualify for the new rate.

Langemeier said Nebraska currently produces more electricity than can be used by its citizens. Rather than selling the excess on the open market, that electricity can be used for new businesses, he said.

“We want to look at things that don’t cost our citizens money but encourages businesses to come to Nebraska,” Langemeier said. “It allows us to take out uncertainty for businesses looking to move.”

Jane Berry, Aurora city administrator, testified in support of the bill, saying Nebraska is in a unique position to bring in new companies.

“We have the unrivaled opportunity as the only public power state to entice businesses to build here,” Berry said. “This will elevate Nebraska’s sophistication in economic development.”

Ken Winston, representing the Nebraska Sierra Club, testified in opposition to the bill, saying it would be unfair to offer a lower rate to businesses than to residential customers.

“Is this consistent with public power’s legal responsibility to provide energy at the lowest possible cost to all customers?” Winston asked. “If you’re going to use incentives and lock in a rate, maybe you should lock in a rate for all customers.”

The committee voted to advance the bill to general file on a 8-0 vote.

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