LCRA approves smaller fiscal budget

The LCRA Board of Directors has approved a fiscal year 2008 budget that reduces operations and maintenance costs while continuing LCRA’s mission of providing reliable and efficient energy, water and community services in a manner that protects people, property and the environment in LCRA’s Central and South Texas service area. The LCRA board at its May meeting approved the business plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. While revenues will be up because of regional growth and increases in the cost of electric power and fuel, the operations and maintenance budget will drop four percent, from $264 million to $254 million. The business plan contains the budget for LCRA, its power generation affiliates and the nonprofit LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (TSC). The LCRA TSC Board separately approved a $67.7 million operating budget, which is included in the LCRA total. The largest portion of the budget, about $632 million, will pay for coal, natural gas, renewable energy and purchased power to provide electricity for LCRA’s 43 wholesale electric customers. The $254 million operations and maintenance budget will fund LCRA’s power plant, transmission and dam operations, river and water supply management, water and wastewater utilities, economic and community development services, and parks. Another $212 million will pay debt service. The 2008 plan reflects a ‘back to basics’ approach requested by the LCRA Board. In February, the board directed staff to develop a 2008 budget designed to meet growing needs and provide the services customers want at a cost that is competitive and affordable. The back-to-basics approach led to the reduction or elimination of some services and the expansion or addition of others, to better suit customer needs. ‘This plan reflects the policy guidance of the LCRA Board to determine the best way to continue providing essential services for a rapidly growing region while keeping our customers’ costs low,’ said LCRA Board Chair Ray A. Wilkerson. LCRA is a conservation and reclamation district that funds its operations with revenues from the sales of energy, water and other services. LCRA is nonprofit and receives no appropriations of tax dollars. “Our business plan and budget provide us with the flexibility to grow with the growth in demand for our services and to ensure that our customers and communities will continue to receive the services and benefits they expect from us,” said LCRA General Manager Joe Beal. The total budget for FY 2008 is $1.17 billion, compared to $1.14 billion in FY 2007. The LCRA Board also approved a $436.1 million capital budget for the 2008 fiscal year, roughly half of which will fund electric generation and other projects to continue providing electricity at competitive rates to LCRA’s wholesale electric customers. Another third of the capital budget will be for transmission projects to improve reliability and capacity of the electric grid serving most of Texas. Those projects are included in the $145 million capital budget approved separately by the LCRA TSC Board. The LCRA capital budget also includes maintenance and upgrades of LCRA’s dams, water utilities and irrigation operations, continued development of LCRA park properties to accommodate visitors, and technology, telecommunications and facilities projects.

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