Power Lines Blog

Raising Nebraska

Raising Nebraska

Nebraska is one of the states to which EPA assigned a very stringent CO2 emissions target in the final Clean Power Plan. Utilities and regulators in the state are wrestling with how to comply while maintaining reasonable rates and reliable service. Nebraska has long been a coal-dependent state, which makes sense, given its proximity to western coal deposits. However, it also has a good wind resource.

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Visiting the Land of Zion: Working Together in Public Power

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UMPA is another example of the strength that public power gains from working together to accomplish things that would be very hard for individual member utilities to do on their own. As our industry gets even more complex, and retail electric customers grow to expect an ever expanding array of services, working together through joint action agencies will be even more important to meet customer needs.

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Downton Abbey Energy Edition: Season Two

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The second installment of QER is focused specifically on the electricity sector, from generation to end use. I participated on a panel at the Feb. 4 meeting that addressed how the country can plan, build, maintain, and operate the appropriate amount of bulk power generation and transmission for future needs. I told my fellow panelists and audience members that I felt like I had been asked to appear in the opening episode of Season Two of the PBS hit series, Downton Abbey — “Energy Edition.” And I was only half-joking.

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Homegrown Makes a Difference

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It’s not uncommon on restaurant menus today to see where the ingredients in your meal are coming from: beets dug from a family farm in Virginia, pork pastured on a green field in South Carolina, blueberries from wild bushes in Maine. That menu might even tell you how many miles your food traveled to your plate, and the growing trend seems to be the closer the better. “Buy Local” is the buzz phrase — and those who do are called “locavores.” Maybe buying local should also be considered when it comes to power.

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Public Power and the Strength of the Pack

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Joint action agencies provide a great variety of services to their member distribution utilities — from “bread and butter” power supply and wholesale transmission services to value-added services like energy efficiency programs and rate studies. The analogy of the pack is very applicable to the joint action model, and indeed, to public power as a whole. Let’s not forget that we are stronger when we work together.

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Public Power in the Capital of the Public Power State

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I was back in Nebraska — the only state in the Union that is all public power and cooperative electric utilities. I spoke about the impact of the Clean Power Plan. "...policymakers and regulators back inside the D.C. Beltway just assume that these changes can magically happen, and often do not consider the very practical operational issues that can arise." I also got to hear about the joint training program with the local community college to train generation plant operators.

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From Key West to Monument Valley

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The last two weeks have been a blur of events and airports. I have been to meetings in Key West, FL, Denver, CO, Omaha, NE, Bloomington, MN, Austin, TX and Monument Valley, AZ, and traversed the airports in Miami, Chicago (O’Hare!), Charlotte, and Dallas/Fort Worth en route. We were in the last two weeks of the APPA staff movement challenge, and many of my steps came trotting from plane to plane.

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