LINCOLN - At Lincoln Electric System’s Administrative Board meeting today (9/19), LES staff and its Board’s Budget & Rates Committee proposed a 2015 total budget authorization of nearly $346 million, approximately 7 percent higher than the 2014 total budget. However, LES’ proposed budget will not require a rate increase in 2015 because of offsetting increases in wholesale power sales in the Southwest Power Pool market.
The total budget authorization consists of the $275.2 million operating and $70.6 million capital budget, which includes LES’ annual in lieu of tax payment and debt service payments.
LES also plans to use $2 million from the utility’s rate stabilization fund to offset some of the increased power costs related to an extended outage at one of LES’ lowest-cost power plants, Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyoming, said Laura Kapustka, LES vice president of Financial Services & CFO.
“The 2015 proposed budget allows LES to continue providing low-cost, reliable power to its customer/owners while achieving a strong level of financial performance, which is expected of a AA-rated utility,” Kapustka said. “And LES’ rates continue to be among the lowest in the country, according to a recent national rate comparison survey.”
However, LES is mindful that regulatory uncertainty could impact costs in the future, she added.
A public meeting on the proposed LES 2015 budget will be held Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Center for People in Need, 3901 N. 27th St. And LES staff will be meeting with customers and customer groups during October to provide information and receive feedback on its proposed 2015 budget.
Board action on the budget is planned to occur at its Oct. 17 meeting. If approved by the LES Administrative Board, the proposed budget will be considered by the Lincoln City Council at a public hearing in November.
Additional information, including a 2015 budget presentation, will be available Sept. 24 on LES’ website at www.les.com.