State lawmakers approve bills for Lubbock’s retail electric competition, awaiting federal regulatory approval

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 10:48 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As Lubbock awaits a decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that would start the “countdown to competition,” the City of Lubbock Electric Utility Board was told of victories in the Texas Legislature regarding bills that were also needed to ensure the transition to retail electric competition.

“The good news is the legislation is passed,” Lubbock Power & Light’s Matt Rose told the Board. “Whatever else happens in the last few weeks of session as they start killing bills or going into special sessions, it doesn’t affect us.”

As KCBD reported in Nov. 2022, changes to law include the topics of consumer confidentiality within municipally-owned utilities, HB 2644, and the Default Providers and Providers of Last Resort, SB 1170.

“They have both now been passed by both bodies, and they are at the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature,” Rose said. “Whether or not it matters as much as it did previously, our goal in that was to get a super majority of votes on both sides so that our bills can be effective immediately. Thankfully, we went through this whole run with only getting one ‘no’ vote overall, on one of our bills. ”

Rose was referring to the suspended timeline to transition Lubbock to the retail electric market. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not provided the necessary approvals, which were expected to allow Lubbock Power & Light to switch the remaining 30 percent of customers to the ERCOT power grid. That was expected to take place in late May.

“Because of the federal processes that we found ourselves in, we do have that delay issue going on,” Director of Electric Utilities Joel Ivy told the Board. “There’s a lot of unknowns beyond a certain point. The actual activities to be ready for all this stuff, we’re still working on, and we’re going to meet most of those deadlines anyway. Some of the ones that we won’t, we won’t because we need more time and we’re going to do it right and do it well.”

Those preparation activities include construction of infrastructure. Engineering Manager Luke Miller briefed the EUB on the status of projects, including two final substations: Vicksburg and McDonald.

“The construction is substantially complete, and the commissioning and testing is also complete,” Miller said. “You’ll notice that the dates for those are at the end of May, May 31 and June 1. They’re ready to be energized. We’re just waiting to do that.”

While customers are waiting for the opportunity to choose their electric provider, Rose said to continue to prepare.

“Once that final customer is migrated over, that starts the official countdown to competition,” Rose said. “People have ample time to get ready for it. I’ve just told folks, stay on top of this, keep doing your research, keep check in in these different areas to learn more about it.”

To view Lubbock Power & Light’s retail electric competition resources, click here.

To watch KCBD’s extended interview with Matt Rose, Power to Choose Your Questions Answered, click here.