Utility Board Push to Remove Street Lights from LP&L Budget

Published 04/14 2014 05:20PM

Updated 04/14 2014 10:19PM

By James Clark and Victoria Price

LUBBOCK, TX -- On Tuesday Lubbock Power & Light’s Electric Utility Board will discuss the idea of removing the cost of street lights from its budget. It’s a move that could save LP&L roughly $3 million per year; but there are roadblocks. For starters the City Council has final say over the LP&L budget. Also, the city would have to pick up the cost.

“I’ve proposed this as a three-year phase in,” said EUB member Clayton Isom. “We want to cooperate with the council and do something that is feasible on their end.”

“The prevailing effort on my end is to prevent a rate increase this year,” Isom added.

A rate hike last summer was controversial to say the least. Some Lubbock residents said their bill went up $400 or more in one month.

There’s another issue. The city limits have expanded beyond the legally authorized territory of Lubbock Power & Light. That means LP&L customers are paying for the street lights in areas served by Xcel or South Plains Electric Cooperative.

“We’ve got some neighborhoods paying for the street lights in others,” said Mayor Glen Robertson. “That’s inequitable.”

Robertson agrees with the idea. But he disagrees with the timing.

“It’s premature to put this on the agenda,” Roberson said.

Mayor Robertson formed a task force earlier this year to ease tensions between LP&L and the City Council. The idea of slowly shifting the cost of street lights to the city came up in the task force.

“I’ve promoted moving it back to the city,” Robertson said.

The City Council put the cost of street lights into the LP&L budget over the objections of the EUB in 2010. While the EUB sets day-to-day policy, hires a Director and a General Counsel and recommends a budget, ultimately the City Council has final say on the budget.

Despite the tension, Isom thinks there will be a deal.

Isom said, “I haven’t heard anyone express anything but support.  But I have not spoken to the entire council.”

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