Retailer Lobbies Nebraska Legislators for Unbundled Utility Billing

Gary Aksamit, CEO of Houston-based Aksamit Resource Management, said on December 27 that he has been in talks with Nebraska legislators about pushing a measure for so-called “unbundled billing” that would require the state’s public utilities to break down customers’ energy bills into more specific terms, according to a report by the Omaha World-Herald.

Aksamit runs a retail electricity and natural gas business in Nebraska and neighboring states. Under the terms of his proposal, the local news outlet said, electric ratepayers would see exactly what their utility charged them for delivery of energy, for example, among other itemized costs for service.

“I think it’s time for unbundled billing, and we will be introducing some legislation in the 2017 legislative session around unbundled billing, transparency and accountability for ratepayers,” Aksamit said.

However, according to the World-Herald, Aksamit has yet to find a state senator to sign on to a possible bill, and company officials declined to name any specific legislators they have contacted.

Last June, Aksamit filed legal motions against Nebraska’s major electric utilities – including the Omaha Public Power District and the Columbus-based Nebraska Public Power District – seeking to force them to divulge their costs to generate electricity. The utilities pushed back, saying such information is competitive and should be kept off the record.

The matter is being litigated now. Aksamit told the newspaper this week that he has spent about $700,000 on legal fees and other costs associated with various records requests he’s made for cost-of-generation information.

In the latest salvo, the World-Herald said, a Lincoln nonprofit commissioned an economic study that determined that Nebraska ratepayers could save a minimum of $250 million a year if the state were to go another step and open up the electric utility industry here to retail competition.

Unbundled billing would serve as a precursor to “retail choice,” a break from the state’s mandatory monopoly through which ratepayers could choose between legacy public power providers and new generators.

OPPD spokesperson Jodi Baker told the news outlet this week that the organization is not familiar with the report by Denver-based Goss and Associates Economic Solutions. The principal investigator for the study was Creighton University economist Ernie Goss.

Baker told the World-Herald. “We welcome an open, transparent, unbiased discussion of public power in the state of Nebraska.”

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