Lamar Utility Board Takes No Action on Net Metering



Several Lamar Light and Power customers who use commercial solar panels to augment their electricity were disappointed to learn that the Lamar Utility Board took no action regarding changes to the net metering policy under which they operate. The customers believe the percentage of return for the generated electricity under their systems should be greater and have expressed those concerns to the board on several occasions.

Following an executive session on Tuesday, January 15th, LUB Attorney, Don Steerman and Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, explained that because the total number of Light Plant customers falls below the 5,000 threshold, they are not obligated to change that rate structure.  Steerman explained that the current number is at 4,259 customers.  Once they are over 5,000 the board, operating under the guidelines of ARPA for their power purchase agreement, the board can enact the statute that applies to a rollover clause if they choose.  However, if they alter that before the 5,000 mark, the board will be in violation of their ARPA contract.

The customers do receive a reimbursement when they sell their power back onto the local grid and have the option to receive a check or applying that money to their next bill, explained Hourieh. The formula for the voided cost is flexible based on a combination of the wholesale rate at which ARPA buys its power, their overhead costs, transmission costs and balancing authority.  Customer Ryan Sneller stated that the Holyoke community, with considerably fewer customers than Lamar, offers a greater return to those using solar panels.  Steerman replied that may be the situation, but their power is  a different supplier than ARPA and probably has a different net metering policy.

Another customer, Susie Brookshire, asked if the matter could be addressed as part of the Utility Board’s regular agenda. The board set that date for January 29th and requested that any documents the customers wish to submit, be emailed prior to the meeting for a review.

In other action, the board approved payment of bills at $1,076,245.87. A line extension request from Robert Reyher for a 125 HP sprinkler system was approved.  He will pay either a minimum monthly electric charge based on the actual electric usage or the cost of the 600 foot extension, whichever is greater.  The contract was approved for a five year period.

The monthly financial report for November 2018 indicated that cash is up $312,227 from October and accounts receivable decreased by $205,212. When compared to 2017, year to date retail sales are up approximately 5% or $605,990 comparing November 2018 to 2017 and overall operating expenses are up approximately 4% or $502,031, resulting in a net income of $1,346,430 for the year.

Superintendent Hourieh told the board the plant is moving forward with the advanced metering infrastructure system, replacing 1,100 old meters with new models this year. In 2018, 853 were replaced.  The newer models offer a more accurate and detailed reading for electricity usage.

By Russ Baldwin




Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesFeaturedPublic SafetyUtilities


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