Nebraska lawmakers kill bill allowing private energy developers to compete in Nebraska’s public power-only market

Source: By Emily Nohr, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Wednesday, March 8, 2017

LINCOLN — A legislative committee voted Tuesday to kill a proposal that would allow private energy developers to enter Nebraska’s unique public power-only market.

The Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone Legislative Bill 660, which would offer Nebraskans a choice of power providers with the goal of increasing competition and lowering prices.

The panel unanimously killed a second measure relating to electric utilities. LB 657 would call for more transparency by requiring utilities to give more details on bills, including costs of generation, transmission and other expenses.

State Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha introduced both bills.

Meanwhile, the committee declined to kill a bill that would place a two-year moratorium on wind development in the Sand Hills to allow for a cooling-off period and more study on the contentious issue.

LB 504, sponsored by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, will remain in committee after five senators voted against indefinitely postponing it.

Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, voted against killing the proposal, but doesn’t support the measure, either. He said it sends a bad message about economic development.

“We can’t hang a ‘not open for business’ sign on Nebraska,” he said.