LINCOLN (AP) — Twelve Nebraska cities and one regional utility have decided not to sign new 20-year contracts to buy electricity from the Nebraska Public Power District.

The utilities that rejected NPPD’s proposed contract are taking advantage of the flexibility the power grid offers today to buy electricity from another provider, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Sunday.

But NPPD says 62 of its 75 wholesale electricity customers did sign new contracts. NPPD Vice President Ken Curry said that shows broad support for the utility.

“If our process is an indicator of the future, our customer base strongly and vocally supports public power and our utility,” he said. “Those that are staying with us, they valued the things in this contract that are unique and very positive for them and the end-use customers we serve.”

The utilities that decided to switch believe that they will save money and gain some additional flexibility to buy renewable energy from other providers. And some just wanted a shorter contract.

Evolving environmental regulations were also a factor for some utilities because Nebraska has long relied heavily on coal to generate electricity. Utilities in the state have been adding more renewable power, but coal remains a major factor.

Beatrice officials decided to sign a five-year contract with AEP Energy Partners, which is based in Columbus, Ohio. City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said Beatrice wanted more certainty about its costs than NPPD offered.

The southeast Nebraska city expects to save about 15 percent a year on power costs once it switches over to buying electricity from AEP.

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