City choosing ‘safety net’ providers for Lubbock electric customers

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:05 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Ahead of next summer when Lubbock electric customers are expected to “shop” for their electric provider, the City of Lubbock is beginning its process of choosing which providers will be Default Retail Electric Providers, Voluntary Retail Electric Providers and the Provider of Last Resort, which will all serve customers who don’t make a choice or find themselves without one.

“When we make this transition in late Fall 2023, you have to logically assume there are going to be some folks in Lubbock, at that point in time, that have not gone out and chosen a provider,” Lubbock Power & Light Spokesman Matt Rose said. “When the time comes, if you have not chosen a provider, then you will be randomly assigned one of the Default providers that will be chosen through a process at the City.”

The process was approved by the Lubbock City Council during its regular meeting on Sept. 27. It outlines the criteria, questionnaire and schedule to be followed in selecting the providers. The City is now soliciting bids from electric utilities.

Beyond the initial transition to the retail electric market, the Voluntary Retail Electric Providers and Provider of Last Resort will serve as the safety net if a customer finds themselves without a provider due to circumstances similar to theirs going out of business.

“Once we make that first step over, the Default provider role will go away, because everybody will be in the market,” Rose said. “Then long-term, you will have these two levels of safety net, should you be kicked off your provider.”

While a city has never made such a transition in Texas, Rose said the process of choosing these providers is following Public Utility Commission and ERCOT guidance. He said the chosen utilities will have experience and market-based rates.

“Once we have had all those bids submitted, we will then have a selection committee here within the LP&L and city employee ranks that will go through and vet on several different criteria that’s laid out in this proposal, then make the decision and present their recommendations back to the Electric Utility Board and City Council for their final approval,” Rose said.

That final decision is expected at the beginning of 2023 before the remaining 30 percent of LP&L customers are switched to the ERCOT grid in May.

“That will begin, basically, the countdown to us going live to this new competitive market,” Rose said. “We expect to open up a shopping window in late summer of 2023 where customers will have approximately six weeks to go through and pick who they want their next provider to be.”

Rose told KCBD there will be a series of open houses where customers can meet with different providers. LP&L also plans to provide booklets and other literature regarding providers in the market.

To make selections, customers will visit powertochoose.org or contact the provider directly.

In the meantime, LP&L is offering educational material on its website.

“What we want to do is try to get as much information up on our website as we can over the next year so that when you get to that point next summer, and you’re ready to make that decision, you can be allowed all of the information necessary to make a responsible decision,” Rose said. “We’ll be here to help guide as much as we possibly can as our customers make this historic transition.”