City changes water, electric utilities

Water merger, wholesale power contract lawsuit under way

The City of Georgetown's utility systems saw several changes in 2012, with more under way for 2013, including an agreement with the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District to merge with the city's water utility and a legal battle with the Lower Colorado River Authority over wholesale electric power agreements.

Water consolidation

City officials are continuing to finalize a definitive agreement with the Chisholm Trail SUD to define the consolidation with the city's water utility and create a local government corporation, or LGC, to manage the utility.

City Council approved a memorandum of understanding Oct. 23 that outlined the terms of the agreement.

"We expect to have that agreement come back to City Council in late January or the first part of February," said Jim Briggs, Georgetown general manager of utilities. "Once the agreement is signed, the rest of 2013 would be spent filing documents with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality."

Under the LGC, the city would operate the entire system, but the Chisholm Trail customers and Georgetown's customers would be financially separated because of the different levels of services and costs related to each customer base.

"It's going along as scheduled," Briggs said. "Operationally, the change will be slow and incremental because of some initial organizational and procedural things that need to be done."

Power struggle

Since June, the city has been in the middle of a dispute with LCRA over its wholesale power contract.

The city and seven other electric utilities notified LCRA on Aug. 13 and Aug. 15 that they would terminate their agreements after sending breach of contract notices alleging LCRA charged higher rates to electric utility customers that did not extend wholesale power agreements. City Council gave notice to LCRA in June 2011 that it would not extend its agreement with LCRA past 2016.

In September, a judge ruled LCRA could seek legal recourse and denied a request to move the case from Travis County to Williamson County.

"We are pleased to see that the judge ruled in our favor, and we look forward to having this matter resolved," LCRA General Manager Becky Motal said in a September statement. "I've said it before and I'll say it again: We believe these contracts are valid and should be enforced."

Briggs said the city has appealed the judge's ruling; however, he said he was not sure when a ruling by the appellate court would be handed down.

"Because we are a municipality, we should be exempt from carrying this issue," Briggs said.

Since terminating the contacts, the Georgetown Utility System has been purchasing wholesale power from several sources, including JP Morgan Commodities and American Electric Power, Briggs said.


VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems to accept applications for unemployment benefits have been overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of Texans who are out of work and looking for assistance. (Design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
With Texas Workforce Commission overwhelmed by surging unemployment claims, Central Texas residents try to hang on

The Texas Workforce Commission received 1.7 million calls from individuals seeking assistance with unemployment benefits in a 24-hour period on March 26.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Survey finds Texas brewers losing more than 70% of revenue because of coronavirus

Brewers across the state are renewing calls for Gov. Greg Abbott to grant temporary waivers for shipping, delivery and tax relief.

(Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
April 6: 8 coronavirus stories Austin-area readers need to know

Catch up on some of the latest coronavirus updates for the Austin metro below.

Williamson County receives 1,000 test kits from a Georgia laboratory. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
Williamson County receives 1,000 test kits from Georgia laboratory

County Judge Bill Gravell said the county is prioritizing tests for first responders and older adults.

Williamson County is moving to a virtual platform for Commissioners Court.  (Ali Linan/ Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County moves to virtual platform for Commissioners Court

Public comment will still take place at the courthouse; however, commissioners will attend virtually.

Laura E. Skandera Trombley was named the 16th president of Southwestern University on April 3. (Courtesy Southwestern University)
Southwestern University names its first woman president

Laura E. Skandera Trombley will start in her new role July 1.

(Graphic illustration courtesy Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
‘We’ve got this’: Central Texas librarians step up to help their communities amid coronavirus pandemic

The example in Bee Cave appears to be just one of many stories relating how, amid the COVID-19 crisis, librarians are helping their communities throughout the Greater Austin area.

Economic relief options for small business owners include the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Has your Austin-area small business been affected by the coronavirus? Here are resources you can access.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a short-term loan program intended to help cover payroll and a separate, long-term loan program intended to help business owners stay afloat.

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt. (Courtesy Pixabay)
String of racist attacks via videoconferencing software leads to heightened security concerns

A recent string of incidents where Zoom meetings have been “hacked” has put the future viability of teleconferencing security in doubt.

Austin and Travis County's orders went into place March 25 and require residents to stay home for everything but essential travel. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
5 recent coronavirus stories from the Austin area readers should know

Read local updates on the coronavirus pandemic.