District 6 Councilman Bruce Conque, the chairman of the Lafayette Public Utility Authority — the group of five city-majority council members who serve as the governing authority for Lafayette Utilities System — is asking his fellow LPUA members to join him in voting to repeal an earlier vote imposing fixed cost fees on solar panel users within the LUS system. Dubbed a “solar tax” by opponents, the fees affect only about 250 LUS customers who have installed solar panels on their homes.
In an email to fellow LPUA members — Councilmembers Pat Lewis in District 3, Kenneth Boudreaux in District 4, Nanette Cook (7) and Liz Webb Hebert (8) — Conque echoes what LUS Director Terry Huval told ABiz late Monday: it’s just not worth it:
There are moments in political life that we have to pick our battles and avoid becoming mired in controversy which, in the short term, distracts and detracts from our long term goals. An example is the recently implemented LUS Net Metering rate that has generated enough public pushback to reconsider our position.
While I continue to support the PRINCIPLE of everyone paying their fair share in the costs of LUS operations, the PRINCIPAL involved in Net Metering rates is approximately $50-thousand in a $235-million plus LUS budget; not worth defending a stance that could develop into a public relations setback for LUS and LCG.
Utilities Director Terry Huval and the LCG administration are proposing that we rescind the recently implemented Net Metering rate increase. There will be a special meeting of the LPUA and Council on Tuesday, November 15 to introduce an ordinance removing the add-on charge for LUS customers who have solar installations and use LUS as a back up power source.
As LPUA Chair, I ask that you reconsider our earlier Net Metering vote and either support the administration’s ordinance or submit a proposal which would effect a resolution of this issue.
On Monday, Huval told ABiz that he planned to ask the LPUA and the full City-Parish Council to repeal the ordinance that imposed the fees. Read more about that here.