LUBBOCK, Texas – Out of the 72 cities that own their electric utilities in the Lone Star State, Lubbock is the third largest system behind San Antonio and Austin. Unlike those cities, Lubbock will have the ability to choose power providers.
“We’re the first city to voluntarily do this,” said Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L) spokesperson Matt Rose. “There are other cities that were forced to do this 20 years ago, but we’re the first ones to stand up and say, we want to do this.”
As a response to customer demands, LP&L first started strategizing the city’s journey to a competitive market back in 2015. Then in 2018, the Public Utility Commission approved LP&L’s application to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) which is the state’s main power grid.
“We do believe this is something that our customers want and that they’ve asked for us to do,” Rose said. “That’s why we began this process.”
Fast forward to May 2021, roughly 70% of electricity customers in Lubbock were moved from a city-owned power grid to the state-operated grid. The remaining 30% are scheduled to make the move in May 2023.
“We still have a lot of work to do just in the next six and 12 months to get to where we need to be, but a phenomenal amount of work has been done in the last three years to get us to where we are today,” Rose said.
If everything continues going according to plan, Rose said customers will be able to choose a provider that’s best fit for their homes this summer. This is something customers in bigger cities like Dallas and Houston have been able to do for quite some time now.
“Right now, it’s scheduled that July and August would be when that shopping window is open,” Rose said. “It will shut down in about September, and then we’ll need to have about 30 to 45 days, so that everything can clear, set and get ready for that next transition.”
If you don’t choose during the shopping period, a default provider will be assigned to you. The default providers have not yet been chosen.
“They will be randomly, but automatically assigned to one of these default providers that will be required to provide rates that are right there in the market,” Rose said. “That’s to make sure that nobody falls through the cracks.”
Rose says LP&L won’t opt-in to the competitive market in ERCOT until all of its electric customers have been moved over.
“We’re at a point of breaking ground, breaking history, doing something that nobody else has done and doing something that we think our customers ultimately want, which is providing choice of electric providers,” Rose said. “Now we just have to make sure that we get this project done on time, on budget and in a way that benefits our customers in the long run.”
Once retail electric competition launches in Fall 2023, LP&L won’t be an electricity provider, rather it will simply provide the transmission lines to connect homes to various power companies in Texas.
For more information about the transition to competition, visit LP&L’s website.