The Nebraska Power Review Board has held that it cannot approve the merger petition between The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and Dawson Public Power District based on a technical issue in the charter documents. The denial was without prejudice, meaning that the merger documents can be re-submitted for approval. Both districts are committed to working together to update the charter language and move forward with the merger as Platte River Public Power and Irrigation District.
The PRB found that Central’s Charter Amendment must include a statement that Central does not have the power to issue general obligation bonds. Central’s current charter does not include the language in question, nor do the charters of 14 other public power and public power and irrigation districts in Nebraska. This was discovered by the PRB during its consideration of Central’s proposed charter. Finding that it had no discretion, the PRB denied Central’s petition on this technical basis. It did not address the merits of the merger or the substance of Central’s petition.
“Central has always done things the right way and will continue to do so by amending the documents to comply with the technical requirements of our authorizing statutes,” said Central Board President Dave Rowe.
Central General Manager Devin Brundage agreed, saying “Our excitement for PRPPID continues to grow as Central and Dawson PPD prepare to join together to serve our region and its economy, driven by agriculture, more effectively and efficiently, securing our water resources, generating and delivering energy to our customers, and ensuring continued delivery of low cost, reliable irrigation water to south central Nebraska so that everyone who lives here can prosper together.”
“I want to express our appreciation to the PRB for their time and effort in reviewing our proposal,” said Dawson PPD General Manager Gwen Kautz. “We respect the decision and the processes. At our next board meeting, we will discuss the options to refile with the PRB.”
The PRB is a state agency created in 1963 to regulate Nebraska’s electrical utility industry. Central and Dawson PPD held a joint board meeting on October 24, 2022, and voted in favor of the merger. The final step was to seek approval from the PRB.
In 2020, merger discussions began with both Central and Dawson PPD Boards. An independent consultant was hired to study the potential consolidation. Central and Dawson PPD boards voted to advance through each stage of the study. Both boards were given the option to stop the study at each of the four stages. Information was made available to customers and the public during the process and was an agenda item at every monthly public board meeting.
During the consolidation study, it was discovered that the highest demand for electricity generation and irrigation water delivery occurs at the same time. There are potential savings for Dawson PPD’s electric customers while also keeping central Nebraska generation in the area and enhancing the sustainable delivery of low-cost surface water for irrigation.
Central has irrigation customers in Lincoln, Dawson, Gosper, Phelps and Kearney Counties. They also have board representation from Keith County, where Lake McConaughy and Kingsley Dam are located. Dawson PPD has customers in Lincoln, Dawson, Gosper, Buffalo, Frontier, Sherman and Custer Counties.
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