By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A battle between the city and Lubbock Power and Light to fund street lights could mean smaller rebates or no rebates at all for LP&L customers.
All day Thursday, the city council sat behind closed doors in executive sessions discussing putting the burden of paying for street light operation on LP&L.
For years the responsibility of paying that expense has been juggled between the city and LP&L. Currently the electric company provides operational services on the street lights while the city pays, but now councilman Todd Klein says it's time LP&L take back that expense. "It's time for them to return to their responsibility of providing street lighting. It's a historic function they provided and quite frankly its one of the reasons they were founded in the first place," Klein said.
LP&L board member W.R. Collier disagrees saying street light operations are a safety issue for the city to take care of, not a utility issue the electric company should have to pay for. "We believe that this is just an attempt to take $3 million and put it in the budget of the city as extra money," Collier.
Bottom line, Collier says it's unfair for LP&L customers because rather than all taxpayers paying for the street lights, that burden would just be on customers. Collier feels it could cheat them out of money. "This last year we rebated to our customers $2.3 million dollars, so if you take $3 million away from Lubbock Power and Light, it may create possibility of not paying a rebate to our customers," he said.
This extra expense for LP&L also comes at a time when they're trying to purchase Xcel Energy's Lubbock assets. "I think right now is a very inopportune time to get into a controversy like this whenever you're fixing to make an acquisition," said Collier.
But for Klein, this transfer of money makes sense. "For me having the electric department take care of street lighting hence the Lubbock Power and Light - that's in their name, in fact - totally appropriate that they do that," said Klein.
Any action city council decides to make regarding this transfer of money must be done in open session to give LP&L board members the chance voice their opinions. Right now it's unknown when or if that session will happen.
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