Report calls LP&L director 'dishonest'; Mayor says 'no trust in Gary Zheng'

Published: Mar. 10, 2014 at 7:20 PM CDT
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LP&L Director Gary Zheng (KCBD File Photo)
LP&L Director Gary Zheng (KCBD File Photo)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The Ashcroft Law Group released the results of their investigation on Friday, and the report contains an entire section about the 'dishonesty' of LP&L Director Gary Zheng.

In a section titled "Dishonesty by LP&L Director" the law group cites Gary Zheng's lack of response when asked where the 2013 RFP had originated and who had written it.

The report says: "During executive session at the Oct. 16 EUB meeting, the EUB asked LP&L's Director where the 2013 RFP had originated and/ or who had written it. In response, the Director stated that he had no idea where the initial 2013 RFP had come from or, alternatively, that he wasn't sure, though the Director posited that it might have come from LP&L's Purchasing Manager or another LP&L employee."

The report says the Electric Utility Board then questioned the purchasing manager, who produced an email from Zheng.

"The Purchasing Manager produced an April 2 email sent by the LP&L Director to members of the Evaluation Committee and LP&L's then-General Counsel, which email attached the RFP Template," the report stated.

During an Electric Utility Board meeting recess Zheng went up to his office to review his emails and came back with a new answer.

"When asked again, the Director told the EUB that he had indeed received the RFP Template from an external source, the independent consultant," the report said.

Mayor Glen Robertson questions how Zheng can remain in his job after this finding.

"I don't know how he's kept his job," Robertson said. "In the real world if your CEO lies to the board about the biggest project you've ever taken on and probably the biggest project you will ever take on, I think he's probably going to lose his job on the spot. It concerns me that he is still employed over there."

Mayor Robertson feels the current structure that is in place at LP&L may prevent a resolution for new power generation in 2019.

"I had no trust in Gary Zheng before this report, I've got no trust in the report. Understand that Gary and the attorney for LP&L hired the investigators, so when you've got the people they are investigating hiring their own investigators you've got an issue right there," Robertson said.

"I could never feel good about spending anywhere between $500 million and $800 million dollars for our own generation under the current management of LP&L. I don't think they could manage it. We've got a lot of issues to work through and they are big issues. This will be one of the biggest decisions - if not the biggest decision the council can make," Robertson said.

The Electric Utility Board has decided to start over with the RFP process. The mayor supports that decision and believes things need to be sorted out as quickly as possible.

He says the employees at LP&L from linemen to people in charge of distribution and transmission have done a wonderful job but he says management need to go.

"I think it's fear. I think you get very good businessmen and women on a board and you're talking about a very complex subject - you're talking about electrical distribution, generation and transmission and I think that they're afraid that without Dr. Zheng it won't get done," Robertson said.

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