October 5, 2023 (Lexington, Neb.) – Dawson Public Power District’s board reviewed preliminary budget information at their October meeting on Wednesday. It includes line construction projects, technology upgrades, transformer purchases, increased material costs and a 20 percent increase in insurance costs for the District’s vehicles and facilities.
In 2024, Dawson PPD anticipates a large construction project made necessary by a State of Nebraska road work on Highway 83, south of North Platte. There are plans to upgrade a transmission line in Lincoln County as well. This project will increase efficiency, capacity and reliability.
During the financial discussion, the board discussed the pros and cons of bonding for construction projects in 2024. They also talked about how much cash they want to keep on-hand for continued financial stability. The final budget will be provided to the board at the November meeting.
Updates to the line extension policy were approved. Dawson PPD will begin charging for upgrades to existing electric services, effective January 1, 2024. This will affect customers who are increasing the size of an irrigation motor or adding a grain bin to an existing site. The upgrade process will credit customers for existing equipment, offsetting the cost of new equipment. This policy change addresses the increasing cost of material. The line extension policy is posted on DawsonPower.com.
Also, at Wednesday’s meeting;
- General Manager Gwen Kautz said Dawson PPD is pursuing an agreement to purchase kilowatt hours and demand capacity from Jeffrey Hydro, south of Brady. Negotiations with The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District will continue, and an update will be provided at the November board meeting. Two proposals will be reviewed. Dawson PPD would prefer a flexible contract that benefits both districts.
- The board renewed participation in the Nebraska Rural Electric Association group for worker’s compensation and employers’ liability insurance. The group encourages safety meetings, a safety committee of employees, accident review, supervisor trainings and an apprenticeship program.
- Kautz provided an update on the Public-Private Partnerships and Broadband Planning subcommittee of the Rural Broadband Taskforce. Kautz was appointed to the taskforce by Governor Ricketts and is interested in improving broadband access in rural areas, while protecting public power ratepayers’ financial interests.
- Director Craig Wietjes reported on a recent Midwest Electric Consumers meeting, pertaining to federally owned hydropower. Droughts are causing uncertainty for generation in the west. Western Area Power Administration, which sells power from federal hydropower plants, will be evaluating pricing soon. WAPA power is part of Dawson PPD’s power mix during irrigation season and helps keep customer rates low.
- Director Mary Wroblewski and Wietjes recapped a recent class about ensuring that rural electric utilities are resilient to industry and financial changes occurring now and anticipated for the future.