By Jonathan Romeo
Special to The SUN
La Plata Electric Association board member Bob Lynch scheduled a November vacation expecting the panel to take the final vote the next month on the 2016 rate structure, as it had done in previous years. Instead, the final vote was held in November, and rate increases were approved, 6 to 5. Lynch said last week his vote would have saved residents from a higher electricity bill in the coming year.
In years past, in November LPEA’s board would take a preliminary vote on possible rate restructuring. If a resolution passed, a public notice would be sent out in advance of a final vote in December.
But this year, unbeknownst to some board members, the final vote to increase residential electric rates was held in November. Lynch, the missing member, said he would have voted against the price hike.
It would have deadlocked the LPEA board 6-6, and forced members to reach a compromise on rate structure. That could have prevented a usage rate jump of an estimated $5.25 a month, and a base rate increase from $20.50 to $21.50.
In actuality, this year’s process is what the board’s statute requires, said Dan Harms, manager of rates, technology and energy policy. Legal counsel caught that the board was doing it incorrectly, and recommended the board change.