Editorial: Nebraska Public utilities should make records public

Nebraska public records law tilts, with good reason, toward openness on governmental fiscal matters. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent.

Under state law, public records should be “liberally construed when the fiscal records of a public body are involved.” This important accountability requirement applies to a range of public bodies, including Nebraska’s public utilities.

In fact, this all-important transparency obligation for public utilities will take center stage at the Legislature during a hearing Wednesday by the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee. State senators need to be firm in opposing an attempt to change the law and erode the utilities’ requirement to provide Nebraskans with proper financial accountability.

The background: Omaha Public Power District leaders have resisted fulfilling their obligation on this need by not revealing how public funds were spent in a 2012 contract with Exelon, a private nuclear power plant management firm.

That contract involved Exelon’s management of day-to-day operations of the now-closed Fort Calhoun nuclear plant and totaled a very large sum: $150 million. Read more….