Lamar Utility Board Presents Offer to May Valley Water Association



Leo Hernandez with Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh




May Valley Water Association is asking the Lamar Utilities Board for rate-relief on their power bills for service at Rd PP and Rd 5. Spokesperson Rick Jones and several May Valley customers presented their request to the LUB during its February 25th meeting this past Tuesday.

Jones presented Light Plant Superintendent Houssin Hourieh with two statements from last month’s billing period, stating, “When you look at last month’s usage and a comparison with Southeast Colorado Power Association’s rates, we could have saved $4,000 from the $12,000 bill from you. Electrical costs made up 34% of our budget last year. We’ve tried to be more efficient but we’re getting to the end of our options and we’d like to know if there is anything you can do for us?”

Hourieh replied that the board would like to keep May Valley as clients and Kirk Crespin, Lamar Mayor and LUB liaison added that, legally, it would be a matter for board discussion. “We don’t want to create a situation in which we have isolated customers in grey legal areas approach us.” Hourieh added, “This is something that was developed decades back when certified areas of service were developed.”

Jones added some historical context in that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) set up certified areas for service but there were some customers of each utility that were located in the service area of the other and the PUC grandfathered those areas and encouraged the entities to work cooperatively.

Following an executive session to discuss the request from May Valley, Hourieh explained, “We want to keep you as our customers. We’ve reviewed the ten accounts submitted and last year you paid $153,340.59. The utility board will reclassify you as a special municipal customer as your water is also used for domestic uses and for all these well, you’ll get a 17% reduction on rates. That is 3.4 cents across the board for kilowatt hours used. Using last year’s bill as an example, your bill would drop $26,525.75 for all your accounts from last year.”

Board chairman, Doug Thrall added, “We’re in the midst of our own rate study which could either drop or raise the rates by a hair, but at this point, there’s no indication which way it would go.”

Hourieh said, “We have been delayed for two years with the ARPA lawsuit. The Tri State discussions cost us time and if approved would have brought everyone an automatic 10% rate decrease and we had substantial legal fees, $300,000 for us and the city. Based on last year’s billings, this suggestion would bring you relief on your accounts.

Mayor Crespin explained, “Reclassification like this allows for a better rate account as a group instead of having the board face separate customers on the fringe areas of service trying to get rate relief on an individual basis.”

Jones said he’d bring the offer to the Association for discussion which will be on March 12th.

In other action, the Lamar Utility Board authorized payment of purchase orders of $47,622.38 during its Tuesday, February 25th meeting. Purchase orders needing approval totaled $31,189.50. Bills totaling $1,023,939.04 were approved as well. The projected ARPA bill for power purchase was $733,516.76.

Board members approved Resolution 20-02-01 recognizing Leo Hernandez for his service. The resolution was adopted on February 11, 2020. Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, Hourieh and board members thanked Hernandez for his service, from February 11, 2013 to January 28, 2020.

Hourieh explained the Light Plant’s line crew is completing the Shady Camp line upgrade of 3.5 miles of single phase, 4kv circuit. This includes replacement of poles, insulators and wire. Work is also underway on sagging a three-phase line on CR 17.

The underground crew has been assisting NAF farms in McClave on their underground cable elbows, terminations and grounding systems so that it will coordinate with the Light Plant’s system protection schemes. The tree trimming crew has also been active around primary power lines in and out of town.

The next Lamar Utilities Board meeting will be on March 10th.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEconomyFeaturedUtilities


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