Frequently asked Questions
What is Citizens Opposed to the Merger?
COTM is a Nebraska Non-Profit Corporation that was formed after Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District and Dawson Public Power District voted to merge in October 2022. COTM is comprised of more than 75 water users and others who disagree with the merger. The main goal is to prevent the merger and encourage CNPPID to remain a stand-alone district. COTM has raised more than $225,000 in efforts to prevent the merger. Anyone with an interest in preserving water and economic vitality in south-central Nebraska (particularly in Phelps, Kearney and Gosper counties) is encouraged to join.
What lawsuits have been filed?
COTM filed two lawsuits, one in Phelps County District Court and one with the Nebraska Power Review Board. At a Dec. 16 hearing, the Power Review Board granted Citizens Opposed To The Merger formal legal standing to protest the merger. The next hearing is currently scheduled for February 15. COTM filed another lawsuit on Dec. 2 in Phelps County District Court that states CNPPID did not comply with Open Meetings laws and failed to fill a vacancy on the board before the historical merger vote.
What is the history of CNPPID & DPPD?
CNPPID, which began in 1941, serves more than 900 irrigators and 107,000 acres. It owns and operates Lake McConaughy and four hydropower plants, including Kinglsey Dam. It has successfully increased yields and income for area farmers through its irrigation canals and has preserved and grown local groundwater resources. DPPD originated in 1937 and serves 23,000 electric meters and maintains 5,800 miles of power lines along the Platte River Valley.
Why is the merger financially unfair?
Citizens Opposed To The Merger estimates CNPPID assets in the tens of billions of dollars, including Lake McConaughy and four hydropower generation plants and the associated water rights. These public works assets are irreplaceable. CNPPID has cash reserves and no debt. Meanwhile, Dawson PPD comes into the merger with electrical poles and wires, meters, some maintenance/office buildings and millions of dollars of bonded debt.
How would water users be represented under the merged Platte River Power & Irrigation District?
When the merger is complete, the new entity will be governed by a 14-member board with just six representatives from the CNPPID’s main water user areas in Phelps, Gosper and Kearney counties. Directors living in Dawson, Buffalo, Lincoln and other counties would be deciding how much water irrigators in Phelps, Kearney and Gosper counties will be receiving and the rates they pay to receive that water. Citizens Opposed To The Merger members said decisions that affect the long-term water supply of the Tri-County area and what Tri-County irrigators pay for water service should be made by directors elected from the Tri-County area.
How does the merger affect the local economy?
Farmers and irrigation are key to the economies of the Minden, Holdrege and Elwood areas. If farmers don’t have enough water to grow their crops, it could dramatically impact main-street businesses that sell cars, insurance and other local products and services.
What happens if irrigators lose local control of water?
Historically, CNPPID sells electricity at a positive margin, and that margin reduces the rates irrigators pay for water. The merged company may decide to stop passing along those savings and instead pass the savings onto its electricity users. Due to CNPPID’s surface water deliveries, the groundwater below Gosper, Phelps and part of Kearney counties has been preserved and has risen over the years. A board consisting mostly of directors elected by electric ratepayers north of the Platte River will not have the same interest to maintain the groundwater levels and keep surface water deliveries affordable.
What is a better solution than the merger?
A power purchase agreement between CNPPID and Dawson PPD would retain local control of water resources and still provide the same power generation for Dawson PPD creating a win-win for both organizations.