Bill proposes electric companies unbundle charges, show customers what they're paying for

Senator Justin Wayne wants your electric bill to be more transparent.

Legislative bill 657 would require public power companies unbundle charges and provide more information on what customers are paying for.

The legislation would require electric companies to breakdown charges separately, including:

  • Energy use
  • Costs related to infrastructure needed to generate electricity
  • Cost to transmit electricity from generation sources to distribution facilities
  • Cost to transmit electricity from the transmission system to the retail customer. This charge includes power lines, transformers, trucks, labor, overhead, and other costs to deliver electricity to the retail customer-owner
  • Meter service fees
  • Any special assessment charge

A representative at Sen. Wayne's office says this legislation would empower customers and allow them to know exactly what their money is going to.

Member utilities of the Nebraska Power Association have denounced the legislation, saying the state would incur significant costs to either upgrade or replace billing systems in order to provide the unbundling required by LB 657. Opponents also say several of the items listed in electric bills are difficult to understand or poorly defined.

NPA Chair and Nebraska Rural Electric Association General Manager Troy Bredenkamp says unbundling a bill would tell customers that a change in an energy charge occurred, but not why it occurred. NPA says public power uses a variety of communications to help customers understand what is impacting rate changes, including public meetings, open houses, bill stuffers, brochures, websites and face-to-face discussions.

“One of the most important attributes of public power is local control — the ability for customers to interact with their local utility and its governing body in developing utility policies and practices that work for the community,” said Bredenkamp. "If customers want more detailed billing, this discussion should occur between customers and their local utility."

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