Senator Brewer’s Weekly Update


By Senator Tom Brewer

One of the bills that I have brought to the floor this session concerns public power and private renewable energy generators. LB 399 has been prioritized by Senator Bostelman. This bill is about how privately-owned intermittent generators of “renewable” energy fit into our unique public power system we have in Nebraska. This is a subject I’ve worked on my entire eight years in the legislature. After scores of meetings with public power and the Power Review Board (PRB) last fall and numerous amendments, I believe this bill helps find the right fit for renewable energy inside of our unique Public Power State.

Last night, after the seventh amendment to this bill, LB 399 passed on General File 44-0.

It is important for rural Nebraskans to remember that ‘renewable energy’ is a topic that enjoys a significant amount of support in the Legislature, particularly among urban senators who make up almost three fourths of the body. Consequently, LB 399 underwent numerous amendments. Each time, the bill got smaller and did less. These amendments were done for only one reason – votes. There are two possible outcomes for a bill in our Unicameral Legislature: all of nothing, or part of something. In the end, the bill had been amended to the point it only does one new thing in the law, but this is a very important new thing that I would not amend-out of the bill.

LB 399 requires at least one noticed public meeting be held in a county where the planned renewable project is located. It requires at least one board member of the renewable developer to in attend in person, and a quorum of the rest of the board can attend virtually. It’s worth pointing out that our Public Power board members attend meetings like this with citizens for the projects they build all the time.

The renewable lobbyists representing out-of-state and international companies opposed the entire bill, regardless. They argued there was already a public meeting before the County Board of Commissioners/Supervisors. The problem I have with this kind of ‘public meeting’ is who the audience is. Elected Board Members are being addressed by the citizens. The meeting I have been determined to put in State Law is where the citizens are the audience and the renewable energy company is addressing them. People in rural Nebraska, who have no choice in being forced to live next door to a renewable energy facility, deserve one evening to get to know their new neighbor and 44 of my fellow senators felt the same way.

In the eight years I have been bringing bills to the floor that address renewable energy, I have never seen such a strong statement from the body in support of the Nebraskans who are forced to live near these industrial facilities. I want my colleagues to know how grateful I am for their support, and how humbled I was to see not a single red light on the board. The 44-0 vote on LB 399 makes a very strong statement that the Nebraska Legislature supports the Nebraskans who have to live with a renewable energy facility.

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.