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Lockhart City Council passes resolution that aims to ease high electric and water bills following historic winter storm

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By Kristen Meriwether, Editor LPR

The Lockhart City Council adopted a resolution on March 2 that aims to help offset the anticipated higher cost of wholesale power and limit increased water rates due to excessive consumption during February’s historic winter storm.  

The resolution, which passed 7-0, will allow the city to use up to $500,000 of the electric rate mitigation fund to help pay for what is estimated to be a higher bill from the city’s wholesales providers.

Using the fund to help pay for higher than normal charges from the provider will keep the kilowatt per hour (Kw/H) rate for residents in line with normal bills. It will not, however, offset higher than normal usage by residents.

Lockhart is not expected to get their bill from LCRA until April, so this measure will not affect any bills residents receive for March. Billing due April 10 will also not be affected. Residents can anticipate seeing the mitigation funds applied to correct rates on bills in the second cycle in April and the first cycle in May.

If the bill from the city’s electric providers is substantially higher than anticipated and more funds are needed to cover the bill, the resolution can be amended.

Mayor Lew White asked City Finance Director Pam Larison about people reporting higher than normal electric bills.

“That would have been a kilowatts used issue, because the rate was actually lower than the month prior,” Larison said. “Our power purchase rate fluctuates, whereas our fixed rate does not, so it would be attributed to kilowatts used, not the cost.”

January saw 20 days with highs above average in Lockhart, and 17 days with below average lows according to accuweather.com.

Water Bills

The second part of the resolution aimed to address excessive water use that occurred by either broken pipes or dripping faucets.

For the month of February 2021 all residential customers will have a total fixed base charge of $23.10. Usage will be based on a charge of $4.80 per 1,000 gallons between 2,001 – 6,000 gallons, and $5.05 between 6,001 – 8,000 gallons. No customer will be charged for the first 2,000 gallons of usage or anything over 8,000 gallons.

“This should cover any excessive leaks, damages, or breakages for all residential customers,” Larison said at the March 2 council meeting.

Residents should expect to see this on their March water bills.

Non-residential customers can ask the City Manager for a review of their water rates to see if an adjustment can be made due to excessive consumption during the storm. Any decision made by the City Manager will be final.

The final piece of the resolution protects residents from skewed sewer averaging. They will throw out 2021 sewer usage numbers altogether and instead use the sewer averages calculated for 2020 during 2021. New accounts and customers with high averages from 2020 can ask the city to review their accounts for adjustments.

As with water rates, the sewer averaging only applies to residential customers.

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