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Thu Feb 5, 2015, 03:14 PM

 

How Nebraska Took Its Energy Out of Corporate Hands and Made It Affordable for Everyone [View all]

http://www.alternet.org/environment/how-nebraska-took-its-energy-out-corporate-hands-and-made-it-affordable-everyone?akid=12756.227380.R-1v3U&rd=1&src=newsletter1031379&t=22

Publicly owned utilities provide electricity to all 1.8 million people in this red state.

In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. It is not a famously liberal state like Vermont or Massachusetts. Rather, it is conservative Nebraska, with its two Republican Senators and two (out of three) Republican members of Congress, that has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution. In Nebraska, 121 publicly owned utilities, ten cooperatives, and 30 public power districts provide electricity to a population of around 1.8 million people. Public and cooperative ownership keeps costs low for the state’s consumers. Nebraskans pay one of the lowest rates for electricity in the nation and revenues are reinvested in infrastructure to ensure reliable and cheap service for years to come.

“There are no stockholders, and thus no profit motive,” the Nebraska Power Association proudly proclaims. “Our electric prices do not include a profit. That means Nebraska’s utilities can focus exclusively on keeping electric rates low and customer service high. Our customers, not big investors in New York and Chicago, own Nebraska’s utilities.”


Payments (in lieu of taxes) from the state’s publicly owned utilities exceed $30 million a year and support a variety of social services throughout the state—including the public education system.

How the state went public

Nebraska has a long history of publicly owned power systems dating back to the beginnings of electrification in the late 1800s. Initially, these co-existed with small private utilities. However, in the post-World War I era, large corporate electric holding companies backed by Wall Street banks entered the market and began taking over smaller private and municipal systems. Using their financial and political power, these corporations dramatically consolidated the power industry in Nebraska and attempted to stop new cooperatives and publicly owned utilities from forming. During this time more than one-third of the state’s municipal utilities were sold to private corporations. Tired of abusive corporate practices, in 1930 residents and advocates of publicly owned utilities took a revenue bond financing proposal straight to the voters, bypassing the corporate-influenced legislature which had previously failed to pass similar legislation. It was approved overwhelmingly—signaling both popular support for publicly owned utilities in the state and also the beginnings of their resurgence. Led by powerful Nebraska Senator George W. Norris—the driving force behind the publicly owned Tennessee Valley Authority—a series of state and federal laws were passed including: the state’s Enabling Act (1933), which allowed 15 percent of eligible voters in an area to petition for a decision on a publicly owned utility; the Public Utility Holding Company Act (1935), which forced the breakup and restructuring of corporate electricity monopolies; and the Rural Electrification Act (1936), which provided financing for rural electricity projects. By 1949, Nebraska had solidified its status as the first and only all-public power state.

BUT WAIT! THERE'S EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS!

I THINK IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO SUCH THINGS ONLY WHEN THE STATE HAS A SMALL, HOMOGENEOUS POPULATION. BECAUSE THEN, EVERYBODY CONSIDERS HIS NEIGHBORS EQUAL TO HIM, AND DOESN'T BELIEVE THAT SOME PEOPLE DESERVE LESS BECAUSE OF THEIR MORAL OR GENETIC FAILINGS (OR DIFFERENCES)....DEMETER

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Reply How Nebraska Took Its Energy Out of Corporate Hands and Made It Affordable for Everyone [View all]
Demeter Feb 2015 OP
msongs Feb 2015 #1
Bill USA Feb 2015 #2
Demeter Feb 2015 #3