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2008 Media Releases


Date:
August 14, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


MAYOR SUPPORTS 9.1 PERCENT LIMIT TO LES RATE INCREASE

Mayor Chris Beutler said today he supports an amendment that would limit the rate increase proposed by the Lincoln Electric System (LES) to 9.1 percent. City Council member Dan Marvin will introduce the amendment at the Council meeting Monday, August 18. LES, a City-owned utility, originally proposed an increase of about 12 percent, and the LES board approved a 10.1 percent increase August 8.

“The increase proposed by Dan’s amendment represents a nearly 25 percent reduction from LES’s original proposal,” Beutler said. “This is great news for the working families of Lincoln. The compromise proposal allows LES to solve its short-term budget deficits without taking more money than necessary from Lincoln’s ratepayers.”

Beutler said he respects LES and appreciates the role the utility plays in Lincoln. But he said he is concerned about LES’s continued unwillingness to be transparent and to acknowledge the authority of the City of Lincoln.

“The partnership originally envisioned by the relevant ordinances no longer exists in the minds of LES officials,” Beutler said. “LES leaders have formally declared that the Mayor’s power to effectively veto is non-existent. They are mistaken, and I will ask the citizens of Lincoln to clarify that issue. LES must continue to be subject to the oversight and scrutiny of this administration and the City Council on behalf of the citizens. It is the law. It is, therefore, our duty.”

In addition to supporting the amendment, Beutler said he plans three courses of action:

  • He will work with LES and the Council to clear up the oversight and governance issue.
  • He will continue to push for a critical analysis of the current LES budget. “LES should do everything in its power to demonstrate to the Mayor and the Council it has made the tough choices before rates increases are sought.”
  • He will call on LES to closely scrutinize the factors that determine electricity prices before seeking a further rate increase in March.

The Mayor said “compromise cannot mean capitulation,” and that City leaders would continue to advocate for LES customers. “LES is a respected organization and an example of why public power has been so successful for our state and our community,” he said. “But in an era of rising energy costs and proposed double digit rate hikes, the time has come for LES to join the other public entities in Lincoln in making the hard cuts and the hard choices that allow for smaller cost increases to the consumer.”


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