The LCRA Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a $949 million business plan for fiscal year 2019 and also approved $368 million for capital spending in the fiscal year for energy, water and public service projects to support growth in Texas.
The Lower Colorado River Authority is the primary wholesale provider of electricity in Central Texas, is one of the largest electric transmission services providers in Texas, and manages the six Highland Lakes and lower Colorado River.
"We are dedicated to serving as the region's premier public utility provider and fulfilling our mission of enhancing the lives of Texans," said LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson. "The priorities outlined in these business and capital plans reflect that and keep us on the path of providing vital services safely and reliably."
As the primary wholesale provider of electricity in Central Texas, LCRA strives to offer a competitive wholesale power rate and help its wholesale electric customers achieve their pricing goals. LCRA sells wholesale electricity through long-term contracts with retail utilities, including cities and electric cooperatives. LCRA's wholesale power financial measures remain strong in the business plan, and LCRA expects to fund all expenditures for wholesale power capital projects through revenue, not through debt. Strong financial measures and practices support LCRA's objective of minimizing its wholesale power rate while keeping rate fluctuations low and maximizing the net margin of its generation fleet.
LCRA Transmission Services Corporation plans capital spending of about $296 million in FY 2019 and, over the next five years, intends to invest about $1.2 billion to build new transmission facilities and improve existing ones. Over the next fiscal year, LCRA TSC will undertake a full slate of projects to address electric transmission system reliability, respond to Electric Reliability Council of Texas system needs, meet projected area load growth, respond to existing customer needs and connect new generators to the system.
LCRA also continues to make investments to increase regional water supplies amid forecasts for growing water demand. In early calendar 2019, LCRA expects to begin operations at the Arbuckle Reservoir, the first new water supply reservoir in the lower Colorado River basin in decades. LCRA plans about $126 million in capital spending for water projects over the next five years.
Two of the Highland Lakes – lakes Buchanan and Travis – are LCRA's water supply reservoirs for the region, providing drinking water for more than 1 million people and water to industries, businesses, the environment and agriculture in the lower Colorado River basin. The Arbuckle Reservoir, in Wharton County, could add up to 90,000 acre-feet of firm water to the region's supply, benefiting the entire region by helping reduce demands on the Highland Lakes. Firm water is available even during a severe drought. LCRA also is continuing efforts to boost water supplies with plans to move forward with permitting and design of the Griffith League Ranch groundwater project in Bastrop County.
Over the next five years, LCRA will continue focusing on dam rehabilitation projects. Among those are major ongoing projects at Mansfield and Buchanan dams to provide for their continued safe and effective operation, which is critical for water supplies and flood management in the basin.
LCRA meets or exceeds all state regulations for dam safety. Its safety program includes weekly and monthly inspections by LCRA staff; floodgate testing every 30-42 days; annual inspections by LCRA engineers; and additional inspections by third-party consulting engineers.
"With the fiscal year 2019 business and capital plans, we are crystallizing our vision of supporting this growing state and continue to work to provide excellent customer service when providing these diverse and important services," said Timothy Timmerman, chair of the LCRA Board of Directors.
LCRA does not receive state appropriations or have the ability to levy taxes, but is instead funded by the revenues its businesses generate.
The LCRA 2019 fiscal year begins July 1. The FY 2019 LCRA business and capital plans are available at https://www.lcra.org/about/financial-highlights/Pages/default.aspx.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40 parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. For more information, visit lcra.org.