By Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
OMAHA — Ignoring calls to delay Thursday’s vote to raise rates, the Omaha Public Power District board unanimously increased home electric costs by nearly 8 percent next year.
The bulk of the increase, aimed at closing a $60 million shortfall, is due to the continued shutdown of the problem-plagued nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun.
Before the vote, several residents who tried to put the vote on hold complained that the board’s nuclear fix — hiring Exelon Corp. to run the reactor — is a mistake.
Lynn Moorer, a lawyer representing OPPD ratepayers, accused Exelon of suffering from a “deeply flawed safety culture.”
Nebraska Watchdog first reported earlier this year that OPPD signed Exelon to a 20-year $400-million deal.
OPPD President Gary Gates defended Exelon’s hiring, but insisted that the utility “continually monitors Exelon’s performance.”
Gates said the contract with Exelon comes with several “exit ramps”, allowing OPPD to get out of the deal if needed.
Before voting for the rate hike, which adds $88 a year to the average residential user’s bill, board member Mike Cavanaugh said he doesn’t “want to pay this increase either”, but argued it’s the “responsible” thing to do.
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