Norfolk has its own electrical system, leasing it from the Nebraska Public Power District.
In return, NPPD does all billing and upgrades, including bad weather repairs, and collects all revenue.
NPPD also gives the city a lease payment, which was about $4.5 million in 2021. The money typically goes into the city’s general fund.
Would it therefore be advantageous for the city to operate its own electricity system? It’s something that other cities, like Wayne, have done.
Mayor Josh Moenning and Norfolk City Council had a business session on Monday and discussed the upcoming budget. While discussing, the subject came up.
The City of Norfolk has at least six more years to conclude its contract with NPPD, so there is no rush to make a decision. At the same time, it would take considerable time to prepare for change.
Andy Colvin, city administrator, said if the city were to have its own system, it would affect the budget because rental payments are an exemption under cover laws.
Colvin said if the city were to make the change, it would also require voter approval.
And if the city were ever to run its own power grid, it would need personnel, equipment and supplies.
“It would be fair to say it would be a considerable budget,” Colvin said. “That would be the biggest budget in town – by far.”
Council member Frank Arens asked why the city would want to do this.
Moenning said it would be like anything, like going to the market to check insurance rates. It’s wise to see what’s out there, he says.
“Maybe in the end we determine that makes sense and we stick with NPPD,” Moenning said.
Arens said it was concerning that the city was spending money because it wouldn’t have the staff to conduct such a study.
Another concern is that if the city were to operate it, then it would be responsible for all repairs, including in bad weather, Arens said.
Councilman Rob Merrill said that since the city’s lease payment was about $4.5 million last year, a $40,000 study could point the city to the path that has to be taken. meaning. It would be a small expense, he said.
Councilman Scott Clausen said without “getting into the weeds” about anything, he would support the study.
Board members informally approved the study, which will be carried out by an independent firm.