If you’re someone who enjoys exploring the various communities that make up our great state, you’re bound to appreciate their endearing nuances and hidden gems. The world’s largest marble collection in York. The one-woman town of Monowi. The 32 western-themed bronze sculptures in Bartlett, or all the incredible history to be found at each historical marker.
Though your hometown’s culture and atmosphere may seem vastly different compared to the pedestals of Toadstool Geologic Park, the bustling eastern-most cities, or the sleepy towns that lie in the nooks and crannies of the Cedar River, we are all Nebraskans to the core.
So, as unique or odd as we all may be (at times), public power doesn’t differentiate, but instead, seeks to unite and bring value to all. It began humbly as Nebraskans united to solve a central problem and improve their wellbeing. In 1929, just 6% of Nebraska farms had electricity. Created from the necessity to supply rural areas with electrical service in the 1930s, and thanks in part to the Rural Electrification Act in 1936, power poles were subsequently constructed and fellow Nebraskans came together to build our first power plants that would reliably and affordably allow folks to light their homes at night or cook a hot stovetop meal.
Community by community, the benefits spread, and by 1950, more than 78% of Nebraska’s farms had power. Around that same time, any remaining private power companies were purchased by public power entities, and Nebraska became the first state to be entirely public power – remaining the only state to this day.
You can imagine, then, the breadth of utilities, infrastructure and people working every day to serve the state.
NPPD partners with 23 rural public power districts and cooperatives and 38 municipalities to provide power to more than 530,000 Nebraskans in 84 of our 93 counties. Being open to one another’s diverse ideas, transparent and flexible in decision making, working side-by-side for the greater good of Nebraskans, and keeping our focus on our customers is non-negotiable for us. It’s what public power does. And public power has proven its value nationwide as well, with more than 2,000 other public power entities providing electricity to 49 million customers in 49 other states and five U.S. territories.
For those of us in Nebraska, we’ve gotten good at what we do throughout the last nine decades, building upon the basics of power supply and demand by finding new ways to stimulate our economy, innovate and create valuable products and services, and improve relationships that help us better understand and embrace the changing needs of our customers and the state.
We know our customers well because we live and work beside them, and because we want the same great things they do. What makes you tick makes us tick! What inspires you inspires us!
We’re leaders, managers, economists, accountants, researchers, engineers, environmentalists, operators, lineworkers, educators, technicians and so much more. Our different skills and strengths yield to diversity of thought, spirit and personality and help us deliver real results to customers as we transform and innovate our industry, aspire toward excellence in operations and performance and control our costs and rates.
We know our business inside and out, too. We are extremely involved in what is happening within the industry sectors at both state and national levels. In fact, we are one of 21 public power utilities nationwide with the licensing, certification, and experience to keep nuclear a viable carbon-free resource for the state – an exciting prospect as nuclear technology options advance.
And, we are proud. We’re proud because as we continue to improve how we’re powering our customers’ lives, we know we have the support of many wonderful Nebraskans who have seen the unique, positive effect public power has on their communities, and who rally behind us, rain or shine.
Some question whether public power is still the right model for the state in a fast-paced, modern world becoming increasingly electric and focused on conscientious living and sustainability. Are we still solving the big problems? Are we an invaluable part of the solution? Are we truly always there when you need us?
I offer you a resounding “yes,” due largely to our competency to properly manage and mitigate future challenges while propelling public power forward with strategic planning, a customer-centric focus and based on solid data and benchmarking. With a new, net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050, gathering input will be a huge part of our year as we begin updating our Integrated Resource Plan – a plan that will provide insight on our path forward to add or modify generation resources to best fit our customers’ needs and our future.
But, that’s not all. Whereas public power once brought electricity to rural Nebraska, now we are working together with our customers and others to tackle the challenges of rural broadband deployment helping to provide interconnectivity to the farthest corners of the state. We manage crisis with conviction and expertise, learning from unprecedented weather events to ensure our power plants and our systems can meet the challenge with reliability and resiliency. We keep safety at the forefront of every action we take because we know it’s hands down the most important part of what we do.
Public power isn’t a new concept. It’s a model that remains relevant and authentic to its beginnings – to put people and their needs first. It is a path we will never stray from, and I am proud to partner with the many other public power providers in this state to continue to bring the best of public power to Nebraskans. The foundations of public power have served our state and customers well, and in 2022, we will continue to build upon its strengths to help make Nebraskans’ lives even brighter.