Mayor, LP&L support competitive electrical market in Lubbock

Mayor, LP&L support competitive electrical market in Lubbock
Lubbock Skyline (Source: KCBD)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Today Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope and Lubbock Power and Light Director David McCalla gave Lubbock citizens a belated Christmas present many have asked for: the possibility of competition for electrical power.

In rebuttal testimony filed with the Public Utilities Commission today, Mayor Pope said, "One of the most common requests that I receive from the citizens of Lubbock is to bring back competition for retail electric service. As Mayor of Lubbock, it is my responsibility to be responsive to the needs of our citizens...I believe LP&L ratepayers deserve the same opportunities to have a choice for retail electric service that is enjoyed by the majority of Texans."

LP&L is currently part of the Southwest Power Pool. According to Mayor Pope's testimony, he is aware of no retail competition in the footprint of the Southwest Power Pool. That could change, however, with Lubbock's transition into ERCOT.

Lubbock Power & Light Director David McCalla also submitted testimony today saying, "As Director of Electric Utilities of LP&L, I fully support the Mayor's expression of intent, and I support his desire to allow Lubbock customers to have access to the ERCOT competitive retail market."

Pope declined to be interview for this story, pointing KCBD to his testimony. (See below)

KCBD has also learned that Councilwoman Karen Gibson, who supports retail competition, plans to ask the council to pass a resolution in support of the study at the council's January 11 meeting.

LP&L spokesperson Matt Rose told KCBD that if the city moves forward with competition, it would be concurrent with the city's admission into ERCOT which, if approved, will happen in 2021.

If Lubbock "opts in" to retail competition, LP&L would continue to be responsible for distribution and reliability while retailers would be allowed to sell competitive plans to the consumer.

KCBD asked Rose if retail competition is possible without "smart meters."

"Advanced metering, or 'smart meters', as some call them, is a necessary and integral part of setting up our customers for retail competition," said Rose.

Lubbock would be the first municipal utility to join ERCOT and opt in for electric competition since deregulation of the electric market in Texas in 1999 . Municipal utilities were not required to participate in the retail competitive market when the state was de-regulated but were given a local opt-in provision allowing them access to competition if approved by their local governing body.

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope released this statement on Tuesday:

Today, I filed testimony to continue the process for Lubbock to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). At this phase of the process, I need to let my testimony speak for itself. I remain committed to a successful transition and opportunity to bring the most reliable and cost effective power possible to our citizens.

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