Energy savers upset over OPPD rate proposal

Posted at 12:58 AM, Dec 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-10 01:58:38-05

There's some backlash over the Omaha Public Power District plan to change the way it bills you for electricity. The utility wants to raise the service fee and lower the amount it charges for usage. But some who have done the math believe it's a bad deal for people who conserve.

Some customers are saying this disproportionately affects the lower-income customers. But the electric company says as more people use green energy--they have to change the way they charge you.

70-year-old Mary Bamesberger tried to pinch pennies when it comes to her electric bill, "I live small, I don't live large".

Bamesberger is a retired teacher and lives alone in a small home. She's recovering from cancer and lives on a fixed income. She said she takes every route to keep her electric bills low.

"Conscience about everything I use in my house," said Bamesberger.

Bamesberger is not in favor of the new proposed OPPD rate change. The service charge from ten dollars to 35 dollar over the next 3 years.

While lowering the usage per kilowatt hour charge, roughly if you pay more than $100 dollars on your bill, the usage rates will drop, less than $100, you may pay more.

"I feel like they are not being fair and they are not being transparent," said Bamesberger/

OPPD said this proposal doesn't necessarily affect low-income customers.

"Low income doesn't necessarily equate with low-usage, there could be people who are low income in old-drafty home who have actually have higher-bills who can stand to benefit from this program," said OPPD media specialist Jodi Baker.

OPPD said the company is trying to look at this rate restructuring to build for the future.

"As energy usage has decreased the split right now just doesn't make sense," said Baker.

This proposal isn't quite a done deal yet, OPPD said they've received over 400 phone calls and emails to find another way to do this.

"We're taking all that input, the board is looking at it very closely before they make any decision and the proposal could potentially change," said Baker.

But for Bamesberger, even if this proposal goes through, she'll do anything to keep those costs down.

"I can start living in my basement to survive, you know I'll be doing without air conditioning, that's for sure," said Bamesberger.

OPPD said this is a revenue neutral proposal they are not making more money off of this. The company executives will meet with Omaha Together One Community on Thursday about this very topic. OTPC wants OPPD to delay any decision until a few months from now before making a final decision and see if there's any alternatives to this plan.

The OPPD board is expected to vote on this measure December 17th.

The OTOC meeting will be at 7 p.m. Dec, 10th at First United Methodist Church.

To learn more about the proposed changes, click here