Well, LUS won its rate increase…about 15% over two years, the first rise in electricity costs since 1998. If you want to see the sausage being made you can tune in to AOC or download the video off UStream.
The central story tomorrow will be that increase, of course. And that is probably all you’ll see in the papers. I’ll leave any detailed reporting on the back and forth to them.
On the other hand, I expect that there’ll be no reporting on the sidelight issue of the status of the smart grid funding and I’ll take that up here. (If you’ve not followed this you can catch up the earlier posts on the issue: 1, 2.) The smart grid package, which includes both water and electricity utilities will go forward and the Feds will cough up half the money necessary to pay for communications infrastructure and the electrical side’s new meters—11.6 million dollars. It’s a great deal. But if the rate increased had failed, as it initially appeared to have done, then LUS would have had to turn down the stimulus money that would have made the smart grid deal so attractive for Lafayette. With that would have gone the opportunity for the service improvements that would come with the utility having instant, detailed information on the status of every customer and the potential for home owners to save money by actively managing their consumption.
There was a fair amount of back and forth on this topic and it’s apparent that LUS believes that the grant money is still there and that with the approval of the rate increase they will have no trouble convincing the Feds to turn over the money they have won.
Now that the money has been secured I’m hoping for more interesting news sooner rather than later on just which information technology will be used to connect the meters to the network. Whether it will be wired or wireless will be the first question and the answer will shape the future of the LUS communications division….stay tuned.
Update: The local and regional media has weighed in and as I suspected there no mention of the 11.6 million dollars in federal lagniappe that goes with the decision. From the Advertiser: “LUS rate hike OK’d” and from the Advocate: “LUS rate hike wins approval.” From the Independent: “LUS rate increase approved.”