Nebraska town sees half a million dollar electric bill due to frigid temps

(Scribner, NE) -- Frigid temperatures throughout the Midwest and parts of the South last month caused headaches back in February and again in March when the electric bills came.

In Scribner, Nebraska they knew the electricity bill would be higher for February, but town leaders weren't expecting a half a million dollar price tag. Mayor Ken Thomas tells WOWT 6 News that they were expecting a little more than the usual $20,000 bill, but was blown away by a one-month electric bill of $510,000. “Obviously we’re shocked, couldn’t believe it,” said Thomas.

The electric bill comes from the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, a non-profit wholesale power supplier. “Call us on the phone and say look the market is crazy, it’s out of control, it would be in your best interest to run your generators until we tell you to shut them off. But we didn’t get that call,” said Thomas.

Thomas says residents shouldn’t expect a jaw-dropping bill yet, the city borrowed nearly half a million dollars from the town bank to cover the February bill if a dispute fails. “We’ll have to start paying this loan off and it will come in the form of a rate increase but we’re going to try to make it manageable for people,” said Thomas.

Scribner produced its own electricity during the rolling blackouts but turned off generators when the power grid came back to full strength. The mayor says if the city had been notified about the extreme change in electrical cost, they could have turned down their two generators. That would have added about $25,000 not $510,000 to their electrical bill.

The mayor says money from the town’s bank loan will be held in escrow until a billing dispute is settled.

(Photo by WOWT 6 News)

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