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The Irony of "Red State" Socialism

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Message Ron Freeman

Nebraska is recognized as one of the "Red States." However, the overall Government and Public Services of Nebraska have to rate it as likely the most "Socialistic" State in the United States. This is not bad! Follow along and look at the make up of much of the States' Utilities and the benefit to the public.

Let's start with the "Metropolitan Utilities District" of Omaha. Affectionately called "MUD", it is a customer owned utility. The firms website (www.mudomaha.com) provides information on the Utility:

"The Nebraska Legislature created the Metropolitan Utilities District in the early 1900s as a political subdivision of the State to provide water and natural gas to the metropolitan Omaha area.....

The District is governed by a board of seven directors, elected by our customer-owners. (Emphasis added)

Our mission is to provide customers low-cost, high-quality natural gas and safe drinking water at a cost consistent with sound management practices.

Besides providing natural gas and water service, we also provide a cost-saving service to municipalities by collecting sewer use and trash pick-up fees."

Residents of Omaha and surrounding communities benefit greatly through low cost water, natural gas and sewer fees. Whereas private companies exist almost solely to make profits, the Board of Directors will soon be voted out of office if they fail to control costs to the customers.

Next, let's consider the "Omaha Public Power District". As their web site (www.oppd.com) states:

"The Omaha Public Power District is one of the largest publicly owned electric utilities in the United States, serving more than 340,000 customers in 13 southeast Nebraska counties. It was organized as a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska in 1946. Policies and rates are set by an eight-member Board of Directors elected by the people in the areas served." (Emphasis added).

Again, the customers benefit greatly through low electrical rates. Although rates can vary by season and other factors, they generally run around $0.068885 per Kilowatt hour for residential use. Tell that to East Coast victims of Edison and other commercial utilities. Again, frivolous spending by the Utility is quickly squashed via public election of the Board of Directors. Do a poor job; be replaced!

Much of the rest of the State is served by Nebraska Public Power District. (www.nppd.com) As their web site states:

"Nebraska Public Power District is Nebraska's largest electric utility, with a chartered territory including all or parts of 91 of Nebraska's 93 counties. It was formed on Jan. 1, 1970, when Consumers Public Power District, Platte Valley Public Power and Irrigation District (PVPPID) and Nebraska Public Power System merged to become Nebraska Public Power District. Merger properties also included assets formerly operated by Loup River Public Power District. NPPD is a public corporation and political subdivision of the state of Nebraska. The utility is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, who are popularly elected from NPPD's chartered territory." (emphasis added)

Again, the Board of Directors answer directly to the voter, providing strong encouragement for strict financial management.

As an aside, the electrical utilities in Nebraska were initially driven to be publicly owned as few or no commercial utilities wanted the expenditures to place thousands of miles of  lines to serve a relatively few customers. The Rural Electrification Association figured strongly in the early days of providing electricity to the rural areas. The REA website describes the situation in their statement:

"Although nearly 90 percent of urban dwellers had electricity by the 1930s, only ten percent of rural dwellers did. Private utility companies, who supplied electric power to most of the nation's consumers, argued that it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmsteads."

Back to Omaha and the Metro Area Transit (MAT). MAT is again, a Government owned facility. Their website (www.metroareatransit.com) provides information about the organization of the operations:

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Retired Electrical Engineer.
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