Late Thursday afternoon, the Mayor claimed an LP&L board member made allegations of bid rigging. The Mayor said LP&L staff was unable to provide appropriate answers to the allegation.
"There's been serious allegations made, and serious allegations made against employees of LP&L involved in this RFP," Robertson said. RFP means request for proposal. The request in question is about the power supply for a builder to come in and possibly build and run a power plant in the Hub City.
"People could lose their jobs," Robertson said. "They could go jail."
Mayor Robertson said, "This is about our generation starting in 2019 going forward."
LP&L needs to find a new source of power by early 2019. The cost of a brand new power plant has been estimated at $700 million.
Robertson added, "As I said earlier, the contracts that we're looking at as a result of this proposal [to build a power plant] have a range of anywhere from $6.5 to $8 billion dollars of value over 30 years. We have to look at it."
At the same time, taxpayer watchdog Mikel Ward recently raised questions as to whether a consulting contract was signed without board approval. Did faulty bids cost Lubbock electric customers money?
"If there were lower bids available, sure," Ward said.
Ward said, "I'm not accusing anybody of anything. It's just this all being done in secret and they're making decisions about our future."
"If the city borrows a billion or a billion-and-a-half dollar, it could make the city go bankrupt," Ward said.
"There are going to be people that are upset that I'm asking for this to be done," Robertson said. "But we have no choice. This is absolutely the future of Lubbock, Texas. This is our future electricity, and we're talking billions of dollars."
Mayor Robertson said because this was discussed in executive session, there's little he can say right now. "I can tell you is it does involve the RFP process, and the state laws regarding procurement. We have to make sure none of those laws have been violated, that everything done in a legal and proper manner, and that's what I hope to find out."
Rumors of an FBI investigation have also been raised but so far officials have neither confirmed nor denied FBI involvement. Bids by local government agencies are tightly regulated by both the state and federal government. State law forces the city, including LP&L, to go out for bids on any project worth more than $50,000.