The boards of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, which operates Kingsley Dam at Lake McConaughy, and the Dawson Public Power District have voted to merge the two districts.
The Nebraska Power Review Board in December will consider the creation of the combined Platte River Public Power and Irrigation District. The two boards met jointly Monday for their votes.
The two districts have been studying the idea for two years with a consultant concluding it would save the two districts nearly $12 million in electrical purchases over the first 7 years.
Dawson is one of the state’s largest rural electrical suppliersk serving more than 23,000 electric meters and maintaining over 5,800 miles of power lines on the north side of the Platte River, but doesn’t produce its own electricity.
Central Nebraska provides irrigation water to nearly 210,000 acres nearly evenly split north and south of the Platte, and generates electricity at four hydropower plants, one at Kingsley Dam and three on its supply canal.
The presidents of both boards, Pat Hecox of Dawson and Dave Rowe of Central, say merger will strengthen the area and be good for all customers.
They say it will align hydropower generation during the irrigation season with peak demands for power, maximizing the value of the water used by irrigation customers while providing reliable energy.
A group of Central irrigators plans to oppose the merger when the state board takes it up. Farmer and former State Senator Ed Schrock calls it “the greatest water giveaway in the history of the century.
Schrock and his group worry that since Dawson PPD doesn’t deliver water to the farmers among its customers, a merger would dilute the clout the irrigators currently have with Central.
They also objected to Monday’s joint meeting and vote because it occurred during harvest season, making it difficult for many irrigators to attend.