City, county officials dispute impact of ERCOT power rates

Updated: Aug. 4, 2016 at 2:38 AM CDT
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Source: KCBD
Source: KCBD

LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - In the next three years, Lubbock could begin to receive power from ERCOT instead of Xcel Energy.

While the Electric Utilities Board says this proposal could save LP&L $20 million per year, it caused concern for Lubbock County Commissioners at their budget hearing Wednesday.

"There's not much that we can do about it," County Commissioner Bill McCay said. "We just have to plan towards that."

While the county's power costs typically increase each year, McCay said they have braced themselves for 2019.

"Our biggest concern is that if LP&L switches to ERCOT, from what we are understanding and from facts that we're trying to gather, it would increase substantially," he said. "It could be up to 15 percent."

So the commissioners already have a plan in place.

"We're increasing our LP&L budget from $1.4 million to $1.5 million," McCay said.

But for people like John McDonald with McLuthier's Guitar Repair, rearranging his budget is not an option.

"Through my business and through my home, I'm kind of living on the edge of being able to pay my bills and stay in business or keep my home," he said. "That makes it a lot more concerning for me and I'm sure a lot of other people."

McDonald is one of many Lubbock citizens who need to predict what their bills will be from month to month.

"I want to make sure that my usage is accurately reflected on my bill," he said. "If the electric bills go up quite a bit whenever that takes effect, it could be enough to put me out of business and that would be a tragedy."

Matt Rose with LP&L said the data they have analyzed for over 15 months shows even the current total rates are comparable to ERCOT prices.

"For an average customer who used 1,000 KWH in a month, a customer at the city of San Antonio will pay $93," Rose said. "A customer at the city of Austin will pay $98, and a customer at LP&L will pay $89. That should show you that moving into ERCOT is not going to fundamentally change our rates. We believe that moving into ERCOT in the long run is going to lower our rates for our customers."

This is consistent with the data Mayor Dan Pope has seen firsthand.

"We already provide the third lowest rates in the state of cities I think over 100,000," Pope said, "so we have very competitive rates today, and we would not make this decision if we couldn't ensure that we have even more competitive rates going forward."

Moving forward, Pope said they will work to show that none of this data is hidden.

"So much of our effort right now has been on getting through the process for the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT to allow us to be part of that group," Pope said, "and we need to spend a little more time telling the story locally."

For more information about the ERCOT power proposal, visit

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