Mayor encourages businesses to use utility corporation

Posted By: Megan Conway

The District Energy Corporation or the DEC is a nonprofit used to heat and cool buildings owned by the city, county and state. In 2012, they built a $17 million plant in the Haymarket to fuel the Pinnacle Bank Arena and surrounding businesses. 

"District energy is a more energy efficient option, which means less emissions, safer for the environment, less greenhouse gas emissions and the other advantage is we have built in redundancy with our equipment, which means our service is a lot more reliable," says Dan Dixon, supervisor of Inter-local Projects at LES.

As more businesses join the corporation, the cost goes down, which is why Mayor Chris Beutler wants future businesses to join. The operating costs for PBA have been higher than expected for the second year in a row, but others worry a mandate will discourage new businesses.

"Anytime you add one more mandate to what a developer or business owner has to deal with when they locate in a community, you risk losing them to another city, another state," says Coby Mach, president on the Lincoln Independent Business Association. 

LIBA looks out for 1,300 businesses in Lincoln and Mach believes it should be the owners right to decide what's best for them.

"We live very much in a free market society and we believe that should continue in Lincoln and that business owners ought to have a choice," says Mach. 

The DEC says they have different systems for businesses to choose like electric or natural gas and businesses don't have to worry about doing maintenance.

"All the maintenance and the operations falls on the DEC. It also improves the aesthetics of the area because these buildings don't have a bunch of cooling towers or boiler stacks on top of their roofs," says Dixon.  

The city hired a consultant to look at PBA's expenses and compare them to other arena's across the country. The cost will be $55,000 and the report will be out in late August.