LUBBOCK, TX – Texas Tech officials are reacting to a report that the university may have been overcharged for electricity.
This week the Sandstorm Scholar quoted brand new LP&L Board Member James Conwright as saying, “Texas Tech is our biggest customer and it is paying more than it has to.”
Conwright made his comment in an open session of the most recent LP&L Board meeting. Texas Tech Regent John Steinmetz took notice of the comment and promised action.
“We are still in the process of gathering the facts surrounding this matter.” said Steinmetz. “However, I can assure you as regents we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers, students and the institution.” Steinmetz said, “If for some reason we do find that Texas Tech is being overcharged by LP&L I will do everything in my power to ensure those monies are returned to the institution.”
The amount of money is not known yet. But sources say just based on Texas Tech's yearly electric consumption the figure could well run into the millions.
LP&L Board Member Charlie Dunn said Texas Tech is entitled by law to get a 20% discount on LP&L’s base rate. He said, yes, technically TTU is not getting the discount – and there is a reason.
“Texas Tech doesn’t have to agree to take that rate,” Dunn said.
Dunn said Texas Tech made a 10 year deal with the city in 2004 which is now up for renewal.
“That agreement has a lot of benefits to Texas Tech that they would not get if they went with the default state rate,” Dunn said. He also said the benefits might even be better for TTU than the 20% discount.
“And it also has a lot of benefits for LP&L,” Dunn added.
What are those benefits?
Dunn cannot say. The contract between the City of Lubbock and Texas Tech is strictly confidential. The voters and taxpayers of Lubbock are not allowed to see it.
“It’s a good agreement other than the confidentiality clause,” Dunn said.
“LP&L has strictly adhered to the contract,” Lubbock Power & Light spokesman Matt Rose said.
“LP&L staff has worked closely with Tech staff over the summer,” Rose said. “Our board did a lot of work on this renewal and voted in favor of renewing it.”
Rose added, “The contract has a lot of elements that go beyond the rate.”
EverythingLubbock.com made an open records request Thursday for the contract. Such a request can take weeks to process if officials raise an objection with the Texas Attorney General.