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2024 Spring PSC Update

It has been a very busy and productive past several months at the Nebraska Public Service Commission.  As Spring arrives, I wanted to share another quarterly update on the work over the past 3 months since I wrote the Winter 2023/2024 District 4 Update.

I am Eric Kamler and I am your Commissioner for the 4th District of the Public Service Commission, which covers 31 counties of Nebraska. 

The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) is an elected 5-member statewide board that oversees several industries which affect our everyday lives including broadband internet and telecommunications, the 911 network contract, oil and natural gas pipeline routes and industry regulation, railroad lines, commercial grain storage licensing, commercial ground transportation licensing and regulation, and modular/manufactured housing safety regulation. 

Telecommunications and broadband issues have been the bulk of the activity of this past quarter.  Earlier this year, the Commission approved a grant and contract award for the 211 Information & Referral Network to again be operated by United Way of the Midlands. 

The PSC also voted to issue the 2023 Nebraska Broadband Bridge Program Grant Awards to internet providers for rural broadband expansion buildout.  This is a $20 million/year program of which $13.6 million of this round was awarded to PSC District 4 project locations in rural Thayer, York, Fillmore, Boone, Jefferson, Dodge, and Cedar counties.  Along with the awarding of 2023 grants, the PSC also launched the 2024 Nebraska Broadband Bridge Program and application period. 

The PSC approved a Reverse Auction Grant process to redistribute roughly $21 million of unused Nebraska Universal Service Fund dollars to companies who will better utilize the funds for more rural broadband expansion. 

The PSC also voted unanimously to simplify the application for the rural cell phone tower expansion grant program to allow a faster distribution of those grant dollars. 

We hosted a hearing for complaints of poor service from Frontier, Lumen, and Windstream. 

Hearings were also held, and the PSC approved rural broadband project grant extension requests by Lumen on six rural projects.  I voted to oppose all but two of the extensions seeing the requests as too long for customers to wait for broadband service.   

We voted unanimously to launch the newly created $1 million/year Precision Ag Grant program which is targeted toward Nebraska ag companies and their expansion using precision technology.   

The PSC also voted to maintain the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) line surcharge for use by deaf & hard of hearing individuals at 3 cents per month.    

We approved the 2024 Nebraska Universal Service Fund budget & company distribution amounts.  This is a fund built by collected phone bill fees to distribute for rural broadband expansion.  I was the only Commissioner to vote no to this year’s budget as I had recommended changes to how funds were allocated that I felt would have been a more efficient use of those dollars.  I will attempt again next year to implement the proposed budget changes. 

Hearings were also held, and the PSC collected input from several broadband providers on modifications and improvements to the Nebraska Universal Service Fund on how to better deploy those funds for more efficient rural broadband expansion.   

Lastly on telecommunications issues, the PSC voted to deny a request by AMG to reconsider a Nebraska Broadband Bridge Grant Award to connect 21 currently unserved homes in rural Gage County awarded to PinPoint Communications following an investigation by our PSC team.   

On the 911 front, the PSC voted to approve an additional 911 outage investigation into the January 13 Windstream 911 system outage.  This was attached onto the already ongoing 911 outage investigation of Windstream from their Fall 2023 outages.

On transportation issues, my fellow Commissioners and I approved several applications for transportation companies to enter service and held a hearing on proposed rules to modify driver requirements for railroad employee transportation companies.   

We also scheduled a workshop to collect input from transportation companies to review industry compliance and enforcement policies for out of compliance transportation companies.   

Also on transportation issues, for the first time in 12 years the Nebraska Legislature approved funding for the hire of a state railroad track safety inspector.  This will be in addition to the several existing Federal Railroad Association track inspectors in Nebraska.  The PSC will begin the hiring process as soon as possible. 

On Natural Gas Department issues, the PSC approved a review of gas supply costs of both Black Hills Energy and NorthWestern Energy and hosted quarterly status meetings with both companies to help ensure consistent and affordable natural gas to customers.

Lastly, the PSC scheduled a hearing to review proposed changes to modernize and update several natural gas regulatory rules. 

I pledge to continue working hard for all the people of the 4th District and will continue sharing these quarterly updates to local newspapers and media outlets throughout PSC District 4 as well as posting them on my social media pages.

If you have any questions or have an issue that relates to any of the industries the PSC works with that I or our staff can assist with, please reach out to our office at 402-471-3101 or by email at

I am thankful for this opportunity to serve and to work towards making Nebraska an even better place to call home!

Eric M. Kamler

Commissioner-Public Service Commission District 4

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