Hughes' Views

LR 125 study looking at public power

On Friday, Sept. 22, the Natural Resources Committee heard LR 125, which is an interim study to examine public power in Nebraska. 

I introduced this study resolution as a follow up to the bills that were introduced during this year’s session relating to public power and the electricity market. 

While the committee indefinitely postponed those bills, the committee assured the bills’ introducers that we would continue to look at the issues behind those bills. 

During the LR 125 hearing, people testifiers the Southwest Power Pool, the Nebraska Power Association, Americans for Electricity Choice, Nebraska Power Review Board and several members of the public. 

The testimony mainly focused on where we are as a public power state and what the changing electricity market may hold for the industry and, more specifically, for public power in Nebraska. 

Of course there is a wide variety of opinions and that was the main reason for the LR. It is important the Natural Resources Committee hears from all sides so any decision we make will be sound and based on facts with the best interest of the majority of Nebraskans in mind.

Prior to the hearing, Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon asked the committee to allow people to speak about LB 504, a bill he introduced this past session. During the session, the committee didn’t take any action on this bill.

His request was granted and the committee opened up the hearing to anyone that wanted to testify on public power, the electricity market or LB 504.

Brewer’s bill would impose a moratorium on industrial development of wind energy projects and would require a task force study. 

This bill deals specifically with the Sandhills region of Nebraska. I myself am not an advocate for industrial wind development. I believe reliability and affordability should be the most important factors when dealing with electricity. 

One of my primary concerns regarding a moratorium on wind development in the Sandhills is that it would be limiting the property rights of private landowners, It also says to industry, whatever it may be, that Nebraska is not a business -friendly state.

I certainly appreciate everyone who attended the hearing and especially thank those who testified. 

Electricity in today’s market is complicated and it takes a very delicate balance to keep our lights on and the rates affordable. 

My hat is off to everyone in the power industry for the outstanding job they do. But I am committed to making sure we are always looking for ways to do it more efficiently while maintaining reliability.

I always enjoy hearing from the Nebraskans I represent. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you might have.

Read more about bills and other work of the Legislature at www.nebraskalegislature.gov. Click on the Live Video Streaming NET logo to watch sessions, hearings, and other Capitol events.

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