For the first time in a decade, the Omaha Public Power District is not proposing an annual rate increase.
OPPD customers have seen their electricity rates go up every year since 2004. But the district board on Thursday discussed an operating plan for 2014 that calls for no rate adjustments.
The board won't vote on the plan until next month, but “don't expect any material changes,” chief financial officer Edward Easterlin said.
OPPD is holding the line on rates by assuming a large increase in wholesale power revenue, including new generation from the troubled Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.
The district assumes the plant will produce power for a full year.
Fort Calhoun has been offline since April 2011, when it was shut down for a scheduled refueling. It was kept offline after flooding on the Missouri River, then placed under federal control after an electrical fire and the discovery of a number of safety violations.
Gary Gates, OPPD's CEO, said the long checklist of items that OPPD must address before it can restart the plant is now 90 percent complete, though federal regulators could not confirm that figure.
Last year, the district cited the growing costs of restarting Fort Calhoun as one reason it needed to raise rates by 6.9 percent. OPPD has spent $126.4 million on restart and recovery costs so far, according to district financial data.
Neither the district nor the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will estimate a restart date for the plant. But for budgetary purposes, OPPD is assuming it will be operational by year's end.
The district also negotiated favorable contracts to buy coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin, which netted some cost savings, Gates said. The district also has no plans to issue new debt in 2014, reducing the budget for debt service.
% change in OPPD rates, 2004-13
*Applied only to Fuel and Purchased Power Adjustment portion of bill