Councilman Paul Beane says there is a perfectly good reason that City Council voted to do away with mandatory LP&L rebates; he says it was the recommendation of the Lubbock Power & Light Board.
"I often take the recommendation of the Electric Utility Board, and this came as one of their recommendations," Beane told KCBD NewsChannel 11 on Monday.
On Thursday the City Council voted to change yearly rebates of excess LP&L revenue. If approved on a second it reading, excess revenue "may" be paid back to the customers instead of "shall" be paid back.
Beane also explains, "Not one single person has come to me and said 'tell Lubbock Power & Light we appreciate the rebates,' while hundreds have come to me and ridiculed the small amounts of the rebates."
Rebates are typically less than $10 per year for the average household. "But please remember this; if we can have money at the end of the year for rebates then we need to cut the rates."
"If we're collecting too much money, then we need to stop that and give them a rebate, not once a year but once a month. Cut the electric utility bills."
The requirement that the city "shall" refund excess revenue to electric customers was born in 2004 amid a series of reforms as LP&L was recovering from a financial meltdown.
And Beane acknowledges that there is reason to question the City Council on this issue. "It was the City Council that stood by more than a decade ago and allowed the Lubbock Power and Light coffers to be looted, driving the City of Lubbock to near-bankruptcy."
Beane was not on the Council at the time that LP&L was headed for trouble.
And the city-owned utility is doing much better with profits of nearly $15 million last year. "There are some who are running for office in May that want to raise the LP&L rates," Beane says.
Beane did not mention Mayoral candidate Glen Robertson by name. Robertson, a member of the LP&L board, did object to LP&L not raising rates during a portion of 2011 when wholesale power prices increased.
The loss of mandatory rebates is not final. It still requires a second reading by the City Council. "If I hear from enough people who want the words changed back to 'shall' rather than 'may' I'll vote to change the language."
Copyright 2012 KCBD.