NPPD lowers likely size of 2014 rate hike to 2 pct

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - Higher electric rates are still expected for Nebraska Public Power District customers next year, but the increases could well be lower than originally forecast.  NPPD now says wholesale and retail rates likely will rise an average of 2 percent in 2014, compared with an earlier forecast of 3.5 percent. The 2013 hike of 3.75 percent was the district's seventh general rate increase in seven years.  The utility has about 600,000 wholesale or retail customers.  NPPD Vice President of Customer Services Ken Curry says NPPD is focused on reducing expenses that won't affect safety or reliability.