NewsLafayette Parish

Actions

Bernhard Group presents proposal to manage LUS; could face competition

Posted: 10:25 PM, Oct 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-09 23:31:27-04

The Lafayette Public Utility Authority is considering its options on the future of LUS.

Tonight, NextGen, a company with the Bernhard Group, presented its proposal to take over management of the city-owned utility, but they could face some competition

NextGen is offering a 10% rate reduction for the first three years, excluding commercial customers, and claims the LPUA will maintain authority over LUS rates.

LUS employees would retain their civil service jobs, pay and benefits. However, the utilities and finance director would be nominated, and potentially fired, by NextGen and approved by council.

They’re also offering $140 million in upfront cash, debt relief and to move away from fossil fuels and toward local renewable energy like solar power.

Read more about the proposal here .

“We’ve had a lot of discussion with various folks about LUS, but once I stated that I wasn’t interested in selling the assets, then a lot of those conversations ended. Bernhard was the only group that came back with a different proposal to manage LUS,” said Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, explaining why the Bernhard Group’s proposal is the only one being considered at the moment.

Since those negotiations became public, other companies like Entergy and Cleco have expressed interest.

LPUA members welcome the idea of accepting other offers from different companies.

“It also generated the fact that other people who are interested which is something that I think is important because I think it takes away the idea that this was isolated off of a single agency, organization or company,” said Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux.

NextGen representatives made their pitch as to why Lafayette could benefit from this potential 40-year- deal.

“These are the products that we want to bring to the customers of Lafayette, these are what the owners of LUS are entitled to, and these are the things that will transform LUS into the world-class, leading utility of the future,” said Jeff Baudier with the company.

After the presentation, 9 people went up to speak, most of them in opposition to the idea.

“I think that our community will regret the day that this has happened and I implore the mayor, please do not advance this terrible deal for Lafayette,” said Andrew Duhon, a former LUS manager.

While others welcomed it.

“I am all for Mr. Bernhard and his company coming in and running LUS. I believe they can do a better job,” said another man at the podium.

No action was taken Tuesday night and the LPUA will take time to consider if this a good option for Lafayette.

“Do we become more efficient, do we regulate our rates better, do we have a better quality product for our customers. These are still the things that we have to explore to see if that can actually be proven and worked out,” said Boudreaux.