Thanks to Don Raskey, who has followed this issue, gathered information, and kept us informed for the past several months. The bulk of information for this post was provided by him.
It's possible to avoid a source of electrical rate increases in the immediate and long term IF those of us who want to see costs kept in line take action NOW.
Lincoln Electric System (LES) is looking for input from the public prior to making a decision regarding a scheduled re-cabling project - the Central Reliability Project. There are three options on the table, ranging from fully burying the cable to fully installing it overhead. Fully burying the cable would cost $57 million, while overhead would cost just $4 million. At the beginning of this past week, LES was hearing from far more people who wished to see fully buried cable.
Don Raskey attended an LES Open House on 10-4-10 concerning this issue. As of the time of the open house, only 600 LES customers had given input, and the least expensive option had actually been removed from consideration.
Thanks to efforts from the LES CEO and City Councilman Jon Camp, and LIBA working to get the information to the public, the number of people who want to see the most fiscally conservative approach taken has now become nearly even with those who wish to see the most costly option used.
BUT THAT IS NOT ENOUGH. To repeat, if LES hears from MORE people who wish to see the lowest cost option employed, that is the route that will be chosen. If they don't, we will see electric rates go up significantly both in the near and long terms.
LES will be making a recommendation to the board in November based on public input.
For those not familiar with the project, an excellent Local View column in Wednesday's Lincoln Journal Star by City Councilman Jon Camp entitled "Time to play 'Let's Make a Deal'" lays out the three available options very clearly and succinctly. In addition to the clear explanation of three options, Camp also does an excellent job of explaining the differences in the methods, including the important facts about how much improved overhead electrical wiring installs have become.
As Don stated in his report:
This project will have an impact on all LES customers, not just those within the project area.
As both Councilman Camp and Don point out - in addition to the vast difference in cost of installation, buried cables cannot be maintained or repaired by LES; outside firms will have to be employed to carry out those tasks. Further, the life spans of the two methods are dramatically different. Buried cables last half as long as those installed over head.
It is very disappointing to note that yet again, the loudest voices in Lincoln, Nebraska, always choose the unsustainable, unaffordable, and highest cost approach to virtually any issue. This round, the Lincoln Journal Star editorial board weighed in with an opinion to take the most expensive route available.
In so many ways, Lincoln is a microcosm of America: the voices of reason are too often silent or the last ones to be heard. (For some of us it is because of the difficulty in simply keeping up with the onslaught of constant nonsense from all levels of government.) A fact bears repeating: Lincoln is broke! There are perpetual budget deficits.[1. See our several articles regarding constant issues with overspending by the City of Lincoln, by visiting our City of Lincoln page. There is an archive list of articles at the bottom of the post.]
We at GiN are recommending that people request the least expensive option. Lincolnites have other things on which to spend their money (such as a recently increased tax for eating out!). Further, increased electrical rates caused by the buried options will ultimately mean increased costs for City government and public schools, which will in turn hit Lincolnites a second time.
It is far past the time when Lincoln needs to reduce its costs, not increase them.
Updated July 6, 2011: The comment forms listed below are no longer available on the LES website. Click to visit: LES' Central Reliability Project page.
HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION:
Don inquired with LES as to the best ways to express your opinions and concerns about this project:
1) Fill out and mail a comment form
Consider printing out a few copies and distributing to friends!
Fill out the comment form online.
State on the comment form you are concerned about the cost of the project is your #1 concern, and that the lesser cost alternative is the most practical way to proceed with this project.
2) Call LES at 402-475-4211
Write the LES board members:
P.O. Box 80869
Lincoln, NE 68501
Let them know your concern about the cost difference among the alternatives and that the lowest cost alternative - the above ground option - is the most practical way to proceed with this project.
Final words of wisdom from Don:
They will be basing their decision on public input, so let's let them hear it! Washington D.C. is many miles away and our voice is generally only faintly heard. But, this is an opportunity for you to make a big difference on the local level!