LP&L Director Hit With More Allegations; Again Stands to Be Fired

Published 05/11 2014 01:04PM

Updated 05/11 2014 10:41PM

LUBBOCK, TX -- Lubbock Power & Light Director Gary Zheng again stands to be fired, demoted or reassigned. The city’s Electric Utility Board meets in special session Wednesday amid a growing list of allegations against Zheng. His employment is the only issue to be discussed on the agenda.

The EUB considered possibly firing Zheng in late 2013 amid allegations he mishandled the bids on a major power supply contract.

“This is the first time this board is going to vote,” said EUB member Charlie Dunn.

What Dunn means is the EUB was comprised of different members in 2013 when Zheng survived as LP&L Director. “This board” might or might not come to the same conclusion according to Dunn who along with fellow EUB member Clayton Isom called for the special meeting.

“I think the place will be packed on Wednesday,” Dunn said.

“Numerous employees are coming forward making allegations,” said City of Lubbock Mayor Glen Roberson. Robertson is an ex-officio member of the EUB – meaning he participates in the meetings but he cannot vote.

Robertson said, “I think the City of Lubbock is going to be the subject of several employment lawsuits. There are a lot of unhappy campers at LP&L.”

But that’s not the worst of it, according to Robertson.

LP&L has plans for a 230kv electric transmission loop with phase 1 costing an estimated $6.3 million. Robertson said according to employees Zheng is changing the plans to a 345kv electric transmission line without EUB or City Council approval.

“It will cost more money, and we have no need for it,” Robertson said. At the same time Robertson said he has been told Zheng shared proprietary information with a company that might have an interest in the 345kv line.

In a rhetorical question the Mayor asked, “Why is Gary [Zheng] demanding 345kv with no approval from the board and no purpose other than to potentially help a third party?”

Perhaps the most damning allegation is a new development in Zheng’s previous controversy. Zheng was accused of inappropriately accepting information from one of the bidders in an RFP or request for proposal.

Robertson said, “One of the allegations is the company that was hired before the RFP …. E3 Consulting … turns out they have the same ownership as AEG – and that’s the same company that gave information to Gary [Zheng].”

Robertson continued, “They [E3 Consulting] invoiced LP&L $130,000. Then they said ‘just roll it into the bill when we get the bid.’”

This year the EUB threw out the bids and started over; that’s when E3 decided to go ahead and send a bill according to the mayor.

“It’s just more proof that Gary knew what was going on,” Robertson said.

Robertson has repeatedly called for Zheng to be fired, but he has never had a majority of the EUB to agree with him.

A text message was left with both Zheng and with a spokesman for LP&L inviting comment.

Zheng responded by text, saying, “At this point in time, I don’t have more information about the meeting than what is already in the public sphere. Best regards, Gary.”

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