LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A recent report stated city of Austin officials are planning to raise its electric rates for the first time in nearly twenty years. That decision is now raising questions about what exactly customers are paying for already. The answer: a whole lot of city projects that have nothing to do with electricity.
According to the Austin American Statesman, customers are paying for things like: new street lights, economic development, research into sickle cell anemia, a "green" living expo, and a host of other city pet projects totaling at least $130 million.
Now this story should sound eerily familiar. You'll recall Lubbock was doing the same thing for years until it almost bankrupted our city owned utility in 2002. Some smart councilman stepped in, separated LP&L from City Hall and put a stop to this deceptive practice. Now LP&L has healthy reserves and customers enjoy low rates and millions in rebates.
Consider this: If our own history doesn't guide our decisions about LP&L, maybe the mess in Austin will.
I've said it before. Lubbock Power and Light profits should benefit taxpayers and customers in very specific ways. No stealth taxes in the form of city budget transfers. It's just wrong. Any surplus above a standard franchise payment to the city should go directly to control the cost of electricity and keep rates low. City council should do the right thing and keep LP&L out of the pet project business.
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