Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
OMAHA — When it comes to raising rates, the eight member Omaha Public Power District board is of one mind. And that mind says raise ’em.
According to OPPD’s website, rate hikes in each of the past four years — ranging from a low of 2 percent in 2011 to a high of 14.5 percent in 2009 — were approved unanimously: 8-0 every time.
Now at least one and possibly two lame duck members of the board, who have voted for previous rate hikes, are set to help decide a proposed 6.9 percent increase for 2013.
The increase, which would cost the average residential user $88 a year, is scheduled to be discussed at Thursday’s meeting and voted on Dec. 13.
But that vote follows an Election Day decision by voters to rearrange the board.
Incumbent Lloyd Scheve lost to former state Sen. Mick Mines, while board chairman N.P. “Sandy” Dodge, who trails challenger Tom Barrett by 36 votes, is in political limbo until all the ballots are certified.
According to the utility’s records, Dodge voted to raise rates each of the last four years. Scheve, who was appointed to the board in 2011, voted for the 2012 increase.
Because Mines doesn’t join the board until January, he is not in line to vote on the rate hike that he calls a “big number.”
Asked by Nebraska Watchdog if the vote should be delayed until he and possibly Barrett is seated Mines said, “It’s not my call.”
OPPD officials blame much of the proposed increase on problems at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant, which has been shut down for more than 18 months.