Duncanville ISD thought it was getting a great deal when, one year ago this month, it switched electric providers and signed on with the State Power Program through the state's General Land Office. Just like that, Duncanville ISD's price-per-kilowatt hour dropped almost 20 percent, from 7.3 cents to a maximum of 6 cents.
But Duncanville school officials overlooked one important maxim when it comes to selecting an electric provider: You don't fuck with TXU.
Duncanville ISD had been contracting with the electric utility since 2009. The deal, thanks to an extension signed in 2012, was locked in through 2016. Now that the deal's been broken, TXU says in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday that the district owes $1.2 million.
Materials from the November 2013 school board meeting don't mention it, but Duncanville ISD was apparently chafing at being charged a fee for using too little electricity. Under the terms of its contract, it was supposed to pay TXU if it deviated from historic usage patterns by more than 15 percent. In May 2012, Duncanville ISD stopped paying for its unused electricity.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Those unpaid under-usage charges don't come close to $1.2 million, so where does that figure come from? The bulk, TXU claims, is damages it sustained when Duncanville ISD pulled out of their contract two years early. TXU says it had to pre-buy wholesale electricity to satisfy Duncanville ISD's future power needs at a fixed price, just as it does for other large institutional consumers. (This is also how it justifies charging the "under usage fees.") When Duncanville ISD went with the state, TXU had to sell off two years' of pre-purchased electricity at a loss.
District spokeswoman Lari Barger says she will provide a statement for the district later today. UPDATE, 12:57 p.m.: She did, and here it is:
Duncanville ISD has an award-winning record for sound fiscal management. We have worked hard to conserve energy and to be good stewards of the resources with which our taxpayers have entrusted us. It is unfortunate that TXU has decided to use their vast resources to sue a public school district. The district has not been formally served; regardless, we deny the allegations as presented in the complaint and the manner in which TXU has characterized our relationship. Duncanville ISD is reviewing the allegations with our legal counsel, and we will respond to the allegations formally in court.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.