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WF City Council makes plans to pay $1.3 million electricity bill

That bill must be paid to a Houston based Gexa Energy company.
Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 6:24 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The City of Wichita Falls has a seven-figure electricity bill that was racked up during the February snowstorm. Now that bill must be paid to the Houston-based Gexa Energy company.

“The city council approved payment of 1.3 million dollars for what is termed “ancillary” charges. Those exuberant charges that we all received as a result of those sky-high energy prices,” said Darron Leiker, City Manger of Wichita Falls.

To pay that hefty tab, the city council will be pulling from the water and sewer fund, which is set aside for emergencies.

“The cost is based on actual kilowatt usage and during that storm period, the waste water and the water treatment plants used the majority of electricity because they were running 24 hours a day when many of the other cities operations were actually shut down,” said Leiker.

“We knew that we had that money in that account and it still keeps our reserve balanced at an appropriate rate of 17% so it won’t affect us later on, " said Mayor Stephen Santellana.

While there was some confusion and hesitation from a few city council members, they ultimately decided paying $1.3 million all at once would be the best decision for the city.

“With that payment option you have zero interest charges. The second option is to pay it off over a few years and that interest rate is a little more than two percent. Then there’s an option to pay it out through 2028 but that interest rate was upwards to eight percent,” said Leiker.

Wichita Fall, along with 160 other cities, are members of the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power that allowed council members to be notified in April that the bill was coming and to take advantage of other perks.

“We save a lot of money in electricity purchases because we’re a part of a large consortium to buy a lot of power. For example, we pay a little over three cents a kilowatt hour,” said Leiker.

“It was good to have people here to kind of let us know that came and the options that we had,” said Santellana.

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