The Power to Save

LES is among the nation’s leaders in delivering low rates and high reliability, helping customers big and small take advantage of opportunity in the Lincoln area.

Few, if any, businesses ask you to use less of their product. 

But electric companies aren’t your average business, and Lincoln Electric System isn’t your average energy company. 

The public power provider lighting up Lincoln and the surrounding area has been a community staple since it was established in 1966. For more than a half century, its workforce has been laser focused on one thing: making sure the communities it serves benefit from affordable, reliable electricity. 

“Our low rates reflect the high standards we set for ourselves and our customers,” said LES CEO Kevin Wailes. “We keep operating costs as low as possible without adversely impacting reliability, improve efficiencies where possible and maintain diversity in our generation resources, using a blend of wind, solar, hydro, natural gas and coal to power our community.”

Each year, LES takes a temperature on electric rates around the country through its National Rate Study of 100 electric utilities in different cities across the country. From New York City to Honolulu, the examination evaluated 76 investor-owned and 24 municipal/public power utilities in cities with populations greater than 100,000 with at least one city from each state in the U.S. Using data from the Edison Electric Institute and published rate schedules, LES compared electric bills for basic classes of service from the 100 utilities based on their rates in effect on January 1.

This year’s survey data spoke volumes—LES’s 2018 rates were at an elite level, ranking eighth lowest in the study. 

“We investigate how competitive our rates are every year, and this study confirms that LES continues to deliver safe, reliable electricity at nationally low costs for our residents and businesses,” said Emily Koenig, LES’ director of finance and rates. “Providing this data to our customers is part of the value of a public power utility.”

Between its 2017 and 2018 rate studies, Lincoln’s electric provider rose eight spots from 16th to eighth for the overall lowest average electric rates. Within the rankings, LES improved its position for commercial rates, going from 16th in 2017 to 15th in 2018. The improvement in residential rates was more dramatic, climbing from 10th in 2017 to sixth in 2018.

LES residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month pay an average of just $96.42 on their monthly bill, which is 31 percent less than the study average of $139.98. 

“The impact of lower residential bills for LES customers, compared to the national average, saves LES residential customers more than $35 million per year,” Koenig said. 

LES industrial customers using 1,000 kW and 400,000 kWh pay $31,080 on their monthly bill, which is 23 percent less than the study average 
of $40,614.

Just in time for the 2018 football season, LES released its third-annual “Best in the Big Ten” campaign to tout its nationally ranked residential rates against the University of Nebraska’s conference rivals. For the third year in a row, Lincoln boasts the lowest residential bill of all Big Ten college towns and the only bill averaging less than $100 per month.

Having the lowest bill in the conference pays dividends—over the course of the year, Lincoln spends $53 million less for electricity because LES’s residential bills are 27 percent lower than the Big Ten average.

Each week during Big Ten conference play in the college football season, LES underscored the benefit of paying less for electricity by sharing “head-to-head matchups” of Lincoln versus the other towns with Big Ten universities. An LES customer can save as much as $78.36 per month on their electricity when compared with East Lansing, Michigan, home to highest electric bill in the 14-team conference. That adds up to $940.32 in a 12-month span.

The campaign is another way LES conveys its public power value, showing customers how LES’s value and affordability stacks up with the competition.

The same thing holds true for businesses. LES developed a new electric rate and three riders to support economic development in its service territory. Following City Council’s approval, the new additions went into effect Oct. 1, 2018.

•   The Market Energy Rate was designed to attract big businesses that want access to real-time energy pricing. It gives large customers with a minimum demand of 20,000 kW per month access to real-time pricing, and they won’t have to pay a facilities charge since they’re not utilizing LES’ distribution system.

•   The Economic Development Rider incentivizes new and current customers to add new commercial and/or industrial load, receiving a discount on their bills for a specified period of time.

•   The Interruptible Service Rider rewards customers who agree to reduce their power to help LES lower its system load in peak periods. LES can request (with at least 30 minutes notice) to interrupt the customer’s power for no longer than four hours up to 20 times per year. Customers receive a credit for participating but do have the risk of being penalized for failing to interrupt.

•   The Curtailment Rider, a conversion of LES’ current Power Purchase Program, pays customers back for voluntarily shedding load during peak periods. LES can request (with at least seven hours notice) the customer to curtail its power for no longer than four hours up to 10 times during the summer. Customers receive a check at the end of the summer for the value of their curtailed demand but won’t be penalized if they choose not to curtail.

Most importantly, LES proposed no systemwide rate increase for 2019, keeping LES among the nation’s leading electric providers and putting Lincoln on the map for families and businesses. 

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