Nebraska Revised Statute 16-679
Service; duty to provide; rates; regulation.
The mayor and city council of a city of the first class shall have power (1) to require every individual or private corporation operating such works or plants, subject to reasonable rules and regulations, to furnish any person applying therefor, along the line of its pipes, mains, wires, or other conduits, with gas, water, power, light, or heat, and to supply such city with water for fire protection, and with gas, water, power, light, or heat, for other necessary public or private purposes, (2) to regulate and fix the rents or rates of water, power, gas, electric light, or heat, and (3) to regulate and fix the charges for water meters, power meters, gas meters, electric light, or heat meters, or other device or means necessary for determining the consumption of water, power, gas, electric light, or heat. These powers shall not be abridged by ordinance, resolution, or contract.
Under facts in this case, ordinance fixing rates for electrical energy supplied by city-owned plant was not subject to referendum. Hoover v. Carpenter, 188 Neb. 405, 197 N.W.2d 11 (1972).
A city fixing rates acts in a legislative, rather than a judicial capacity. A utility is entitled to a fair return. Rates fixed by city are presumed to be correct and reasonable and burden is on party attacking them to show they are unreasonable. A litigant who invokes the provisions of this statute may not challenge its constitutionality. Kansas-Nebraska Nat. Gas Co., Inc. v. City of Sidney, 186 Neb. 168, 181 N.W.2d 682 (1970).
Cities of the first class may regulate rates to be charged for gas. Nebraska Natural Gas Co. v. City of Lexington, 167 Neb. 413, 93 N.W.2d 179 (1958).
City's authority to erect, extend or to improve and to maintain a sewer system and to issue bonds payable from taxes is independent and complete. State ex rel. City of Columbus v. Price, 127 Neb. 132, 254 N.W. 889 (1934).
City cannot make contract for light and power with provision that precludes it from changing the rates during the life thereof, and a contract so doing is void. Central Power Co. v. City of Kearney, 274 F. 253 (8th Cir. 1921).