OTOC sought to improve OPPD rate restructuring proposal
December 18, 2015
Fr. Mike Eckley spoke on behalf of OTOC at a Dec 15 press conference in front of OPPD. Fr. Mike expressed OTOC’s concern that increasing fixed fees will result in many low income, fixed income families experiencing more difficulty paying their bills.
OTOC leaders worked hard to convince the OPPD Board take their time and look at viable alternatives to raising fixed fees by 200%. Despite the thoughtful pleas of over 200 OTOC leaders and hundreds more from other community organizations, the OPPD Board voted 6-2 to adopt the staff’s proposed restructuring. Board members Tom Barrett and Tim Gay voted against the proposal. OTOC thanks them for listening to their communities.
Prior to the vote, OTOC asked the OPPD Board and Staff to answer several questions that remain unanswered.
Please ask your board member and OPPD senior staff to provide answers to our community. To see the questions OTOC asked, click on the link below:
OTOC held workshops on November 9 and December 10 that were attended by over 200 people who expressed concern to OPPD and asked for them to delay action and look at alternatives. OPPD Board members Tom Barret, John Green and Anne McGuire and OPPD CEO Tim Burke attended the December 10 meeting. Mr. Barrett sought a delay but was unable to win approval. Mr. Barrett and Board member Tim Gay, who met with OTOC leaders over the weekend, voted against the proposal.
OTOC leaders Mary Spurgeon, Mark Loscutoff, Mary Ruth Stegman and Alan Vovolka were among the 15 community leaders who worked together at the hearing to testify against OPPD’s proposed rate restructuring and ask for a delay until the Board engaged in further discussion of alternatives.
OTOC leaders worked with these groups to coordinate the testimony of several organizations around 5 themes:
OPPD’s lack of transparency;
improving OPPD’s engagement with the community;
negative impact of OPPD’s proposal;
our vision for a smart energy future;
and assuring that low use; assuring that low income households get the help they need if they are unable to pay the increases which will range from $75 to $175 per year for low use households.
Some of OTOC’s questions to the Board included:
When and Where did OPPD Board members discuss alternatives to the 200% increase in service charges;
Answer from CEO Burke:
OPPD looked at increasing fixed service charges and sometime, in the unknown future, employing smart meters, self healing grid and other technologies to price each household’s use of energy. OTOC concludes that since OPPD does not now have smart meters, the only alternative OPPD looked at was raising fixed service charges.
Do OPPD board members believe they have a fiduciary duty to rate payers to review alternatives to the Staff’s proposed plans since they are not only OPPD board members but also serve as regulators of OPPD’s rates.
Answer from Board Member Mines:
“Our first responsibility is our fiduciary responsibility to the company,” said board member Mick Mines, who supported the measure.
What is so unique about OPPD’s financial situation that the Board should adopt a 200% increase in service charges, making them the highest in the industry for similar utilities.
Partial Answer from Board Member Ulrich:
“Board member Fred Ulrich said the new rate plan corrects an existing inequality — that of high-use customers covering system costs for low-use customers. No longer will a rural customer living in a mobile home subsidize the solar panels on a home in Regency, he said.
Joining Mines and Ulrich in voting for the change were Anne McGuire, John Green, Mike Cavanaugh and Rich Hurley.” from Omaha World Herald