Lamar Utility Board Reviews Customer Disconnect Policies


Lamar LIght and Power Plant

Most of the discussion during the August 29 Lamar Utility Board meeting focused on items not specifically on the agenda.   Lamar Light Plant Superintendent Houssin Hourieh discussed the rules and regulations pertaining to policies for re-connect and disconnect for electric service, mostly for residential customers.  The Light Plant follows at 70 page document set up in 1992 through 1997 and Hourieh reviewed the specifics to see if any board members felt there should be some adjustments or updates on policy. 

“We get anywhere from 43 to 63 customers disconnected a month,” Hourieh explained, saying they were a mixture of residential and commercial accounts, but mostly residential.  Clients have 20 days to respond to a disconnect notice after two straight months of missed utility payments.  He said most customers will respond during the day of the disconnect notice, but two or three make calls after business hours asking that a service man restore the meters that night.  They have until 10am the next day to make a payment arrangement, but usually no one shows at the plant office, so another service man has to go out to disconnect the meter again, which costs in man hours.  Sometimes a residence will request a reconnect under a different name than the prior customer.  After three missed payments, the bill is sent to a collection agency in Fort Morgan, according to board secretary, Linda Williams. 

Hourieh suggested that the board members review the current rate structure for connection and disconnect fees, during and after regular business hours.  Another option is to alter the cost of service calls from the 1992 fees for Wiley, McClave, Hartman and Bristol.  Using the standard IRS per mile charge, the costs would be $8-14-24 and 19 respectively.  Board member Mike Bryant suggested that the costs be explained on the bill, using IRS fee structure. 

Customers may also request their deposit fees be returned but LUB secretary Linda Williams explained that occurs only when 12 consecutive payments have been made without any disconnect notices.  Residential deposit fees are $50 and will show accrued interest.  Hourieh explained that commercial deposits will differ, adjusting for comparable square footage or equal sized consumption from one business to another similar sized operation.

 The question of Light Plant utility rates becoming a negative issue with businesses looking to set up operation in Prowers County had been discussed at last month’s Prowers County Development Incorporated meeting.  Those board members suggested PCDI executive director Lisa Nolder set up a meeting with Superintendent Hourieh to see if there could be any leeway in the rate structure for new or existing businesses serviced by Lamar Light & Power in the county.  At the August 28 meeting, Hourieh said he was approached, but the subject of rates was not explored in depth.  Board member, Ron Cook said it might be best not to wait for a second call, but to have the board set up a date with PCDI, along with the city council, possibly the Prowers County Commissioners and Rick Rigel from ARPA as that company sets the rate policy for the Light Plant.

 Hourieh said he was aware that the Denver based environmental group WildEarth Guardians has initiated a lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Prowers County regarding the permit modification issued to the Lamar Utility Board and ARPA at the end of July.  Neither of the two is a party of the lawsuit, according to Hourieh, but the board is interested in the outcome.  He explained that the CDPHE in July declared the Repowering Project plant as a minor, not a major source of hazardous air pollutants in the atmosphere and had never been a major source.  WEG, not happy with that declaration, initiated a lawsuit against the state health agency. 

Hourieh mentioned that line crews have been busy in Holly, at the school campus construction project laying in overhead and underground systems.  He also reminded the board of the monthly ARPA meeting this Thursday, August 30 at the Lamar Community Building beginning at 10am.  The meetings are usually several hours long and are concluded following a lunch break.  John Sutherland, the new Lamar City Administrator attended the LUB meeting to introduce himself to the board members. 

Purchase orders and bills were paid at $86,766.65 and $1,267,258.61 respectively.  The June financial statement showed that cash was down $381,896 from May and A/R has increased by $283,587.  Payments have been made on a new bucket truck and a semi-annual interest payment was made on Wind Turbine Bonds.   Revenues from retail sales are up approximately $561,219 comparing June 2012 to 2011.  Overall operating expenses are down 8% resulting in a net income for the year of $625,551.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessChamber/Local BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEnergyFeaturedHollyLamarUtilitiesWiley


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