Councilman questions LP&L ad budget to save money - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Councilman questions LP&L ad budget to save money

Todd Klein, image from City of Lubbock web site Todd Klein, image from City of Lubbock web site

By James Clark - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Should Lubbock Power & Light stop advertising to save money?  Councilman Todd Klein raised the issue Wednesday in a written statement.  Klein says he, "respectfully requests the board members of LP&L review the company's advertising budget for possible savings for the city's rate-payers."

LP&L is owned by the city.  As of October 29th, it bought out the Lubbock operations of its only competitor Xcel Energy.  Klein mentions Lubbock Power & Light's recent purchase of Xcel Energy's distribution assets as part of his public statement. 

So how much money is stake in the LP&L ad budget?  "It's protected in the budget as a competitive matter," says spokesman Chris Sims. 

There is a pending proposal before City Council to remove LP&L from competitive status.

"We'll sure cooperate with Mr. Klein in getting him any information he needs," says Electric Utility Board Chairman W.R. Collier. 

"I think he and I are generally in agreement that we'd like to save money," Collier continued.  But it's not total agreement.

"There are issues in the budget that we've disagreed with the city on numerous occasions," Collier says.  "They're quite large dollars that we disagree on."

While City Council sets the rates and the budget, the Electric Utility Board oversees other aspects of LP&L's operations.  City Council forced LP&L last year to take on $3 million of expenses related to the city's street lights over the vehement objections of the EUB. 

While Collier could not disclose the advertising budget, he could say that "there's no question that [money for] street lights is a lot more."

The EUB and the City also disagreed on how to structure the purchase of Xcel's Lubbock operation.  The EUB wanted to use primarily money in reserves instead of debt, which would have saved $11 million in interest and bond commission fees. 

City Council instead chose to use primarily debt. 

As for the ad budget, Klein says the EUB might reconsider it and then leave it right where it is currently.  Klein knows the amount in question but chose not to disclose it until LP&L's competitive status is officially changed. 

What about other ideas for saving money at LP&L?  Klein answers KCBD NewsChannel 11 by saying, "There might be some other areas but not anything specifically that I'm aware of currently."

Klein also called upon the city's Electric Utility Board members to "consistently file financial interest and conflict of interest forms with the City."  

"I believe this will place LP&L in a strong position in continuing to provide Lubbock citizens a home owned utility...," Klein says in his written statement.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11.  All rights reserved.

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