OPPD fee hikes hurt low-income, low energy users and conservationists, OWH analysis confirms

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald
OPPD Infographic 

Conservationist Craig Moody, who joined the OPPD board after the vote on fee and rate changes, says he is concerned that OPPD is encouraging people to use more power instead of less, which he says is wrong. He said he would like OPPD to explore a tiered fee structure, one similar to what the Lincoln Electric System uses. Lincoln charges different fixed fees for customers based on how much power they use.

[Commenting on OPPD’s monthly fixed fee, which starting this month amounts to $360 per year, newly-elected board member Eric Williams stated]: “I think that all five of the new board members were pretty open during our campaigns that the high fixed fee structure is something that’s hurting a lot of people. We would like to take another look at it.” One option, he said, may be revisiting OPPD’s Strategic Directive 2 on rates this spring, to see whether the goal of being affordable is being met. Read the entire article here.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED INFORMATION

OPPD’S  justification for the fixed fee increase is included in the following article by Aaron Sanderford: OPPD board approves $1.18 billion budget
 [Monthly fixed fees] will increase to $30 a month in 2019, up from $10.25 in 2015. Utility officials have said the shift is needed as appliances and devices become more efficient and as more people start generating power at home, including by using solar panels.

In his latest article, Aaron Sanderford states that the fixed fee harms the poor and elders as well as conservationists, including “those who generate their own power.” The annual fixed fee, now $360, does create a barrier for rooftop solar development, as the amount itself, on top of the cost of a solar system, will put the option out of range for many household budgets. As OPPD also states, it increases the payback period for a solar system:

OPPD’s Rate Restructuring FAQs posted on the utility’s website:
FAQ #9:  I am considering installing solar panels and/or wind generation at my home. How would this affect me?
Answer: Because the fixed portion of the bill is increasing, customers who wish to install solar or wind to meet part of their energy needs would see an increase in the payback period associated with recovering their investment.

Those who have installed solar know that the PV systems on their rooftops benefit not only their own households and their neighbors’, but also OPPD in a number of widely-recognized ways. Six benefits of rooftop solar are excerpted HERE from the following source: Let’s Be Clear: Solar Energy Benefits Everyone, Solar Energy Industries Association

Many utilities across the nation have no fixed monthly fees, or they have rolled them back or are in the process of doing so:

Are regulators starting to rethink fixed charges?, Utility Dive
[In 2017], regulators only approved 6 out of 84 proposals for higher customer charges, suggesting regulators might be looking for “something better,” Proudlove told Utility Dive. Autumn Proudlove is senior manager of policy research at the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).