- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Omaha Public Power District is scaling back a proposal that would increase its monthly fixed service fees while proportionately charging less for actual usage.

The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/1k2vweq ) reports that district managers still plan to recommend the changes for residential and small commercial customers, but managers have proposed to raise the monthly fee to $30 over the next three years, instead of $35. Usage rates would also drop 22 percent over the same period.

The current service fee for residential customers is $10.25.

District officials have said that the goal of the proposal is to have bills more accurately reflect the cost of delivering power to each customer regardless of usage.

Chief Financial Officer Edward Easterlin said 90 percent of an average customer’s bill is based on actual usage, so low-use customers get the benefits of connecting to the grid but don’t pay their share.

Several groups, including the local chapter of the Sierra Club and Bold Nebraska and Nebraskans for Solar, oppose the plan because low-use customers would pay more than they do now for the same amount of electricity. They presented a petition urging members of the district’s board to reject the proposal.

Board Chairwoman Anne McGuire said the board understands the group’s concerns.

District officials say that monthly bill credits would be offered to low-income, low-use customers. Customers who are a part of Nebraska’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, who use less than 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would see a graduated monthly credit of $2.50 to $7.50.

The district board is set to vote on the plan Thursday.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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