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LP&L tells Electric Utility Board it’s prepared for transition to ERCOT, summer rate increase

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:13 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock Power & Light advised the city’s Electric Utility Board (EUB) Tuesday on a “major undertaking,” the migration of most of its customers to the ERCOT grid Memorial Day Weekend and an expected rate increase this summer, which officials say isn’t caused by that transition.

“Everything is on track,” LP&L Spokesperson Matt Rose said. “Everything is kind of set in place. We’re ready to go forward with this. These final two weeks, we’ll be making sure that customers know what they can expect.”

Starting May 29 about 70 percent or 83,000 LP&L customers will be placed onto the ERCOT grid, a process that will leave those customers without power for half an hour over that weekend.

“In a general sense, we’re going to work from the northeast side of our system to the southwest side of our system Saturday through Sunday,” Rose said. “It’s a systematic path that we’re going to take and it’s something where we have coordinated with the engineers on both sides of the aisle in terms of [Southwest Power Pool] and ERCOT, as well as our own internal folks.”

LP&L Director of Electric Utilities David McCalla told the board the “major undertaking” will require staffing in the field and in operation centers on a constant rotation. The City of Lubbock will also staff the Emergency Operations Center to deal with the disruption to services.

“It is our hope that with weather permitting, this will go faster as we move through the system,” Rose said. “But, we want to make sure we prepare folks for what is anticipated, which would be about a 30-minute outage. Once you’ve been transitioned over, it’s done.”

To prepare customers, LP&L has created an online tool that lets them know when they will be impacted. You can view that by clicking here.

As for the rate increase, LP&L officials advised the EUB natural gas prices are returning to a historically normal level after plunging the past few years. LP&L expects to move its Power Cost Recovery Factor (PCRF) back to a normal level in June after lowering it in 2019 and 2020. The PCRF will be similarly set to a 2017 level.

“We pass through natural gas costs, whether it were with ERCOT or SPP,” Rose said. “You see other utilities around this region, around the state that are also preparing for these natural gas prices to be higher than they were last summer.”

LP&L stresses your bill increase this summer is not due to the ERCOT transition, but rather the PCRF and increased energy usage. New market pricing won’t be available until all customers are on the ERCOT grid.

“We’re not looking at a long timeframe in terms of moving that remaining load over,” Rose said. “There are a couple things that need to be done. We’ll need to go back to the Public Utility Commission to get one more approval to move this over. While we don’t anticipate that to be fraught with any peril, it’s still a step that we have to take before we can start working on moving the remaining folks over. The ultimate goal is to have 100 percent over the line and then to pursue our stated goal as staff, as the city council, as the Electric Utility Board of bringing back competition to Lubbock. It will not take place on June 1. It will only take place when we’ve got 100 percent of the customers over the line.”

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