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LCRA board set to consider changes to key policies, mission statement

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 by Michael Kanin

The board of the Lower Colorado River Authority is set to approve changes to three of its key agency policies. If voted in, the policies affected include the Telecommunications policy, the Fuel and Energy policy, and the organization’s Mission Statement.


Some of the changes appear to be significant. They include the removal of a phrase in the mission statement that reads “in partnership with our customers and communities” as well as a line that commits the organization to “ensure the protection and productive use” of the region’s natural resources.


LCRA spokesperson Clara Tuma assured In Fact Daily that the changes would not dramatically soften the organization’s role as an environmental steward. “The answer is absolutely not,” Tuma said via email.


The LCRA’s Mission Statement was first adopted in 1984. It was subsequently amended in 1991 and 2000. After that action, it read as follows: “The mission of the Lower Colorado River Authority is to provide reliable, low-cost utility, and public services in partnership with our customers and communities and to use our leadership role and environmental authority to ensure the protection and constructive use of the area’s natural resources. The LCRA is a Texas conservation and reclamation district operating with no taxing authority.”


If approved on Wednesday, the freshly amended language would be the first change since then. The new Mission Statement would read: “The Lower Colorado River Authority provides reliable, cost-effective electric, water and other public services of value and is a responsible steward of the river and the basin’s natural resources. LCRA is a Texas conservation and reclamation district operating with no taxing authority.”


Changes in the Fuel and Energy section feature at least one notable swap. There, the organization adjusts its policy with regard to the pursuit of “generation assets” and “fuel and energy transactions.” As it stands, the policy stipulates that the LCRA “will” go after such arrangements “at the lowest reasonable costs to wholesale electric customers to enhance LCRA’s competitive economic position over the long-term.” The new language reads that “LCRA may” conduct business in that fashion.


Tuma added that that change was “absolutely not” backing away from any hard targets previously established by the LCRA. She further noted that the topics would be discussed at Wednesday’s board meeting.


The changes will be brought forward by LCRA board chair Tim Timmerman. They are the latest in a series of organizational shifts that have visited the organization since former General Manager Tom Mason stepped down and Becky Motal took over as the agency’s leader.


Other recent changes include the culling of several management positions and the departure of a significant number of employees, including the exit of Sherri Kuhl, LCRA’s manager for water stewardship. Despite assurances from the LCRA that the organization is equipped – and, indeed, was prepared – to handle the departures, the employee exodus coupled with this new action has drawn considerable concern among those who follow the agency.

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