Lancaster County electric bill could double after supplier files for bankruptcy | Local News


Lancaster County’s electricity bill could soon double after its current supplier began federal bankruptcy proceedings last month. Recent increases in global energy costs mean the county could pay up to $500,000 more for electricity this year, and $700,000 more in 2023, according to Linda Schreiner, the county’s purchasing manager.

On Tuesday, Schreiner told the County Board of Commissioners that the bankruptcy filing of Texas-based Talen Energy Supply, LLC led to the premature end of a three-year contract to supply electricity to the county, as well as to Lehigh and Dauphin counties.

“This is a supplier we had used for years in the county and we had no idea what was going on” to drive the company out of business, Schreiner said during the work session. of Tuesday for the county commissioners. The purchasing manager said the county energy broker will get a price from a new supplier by next week.

In the meantime, Schreiner said, buildings and facilities in the county are running on electricity supplied by PPL without the benefit of a cooperative purchasing agreement with Lehigh and Dauphin counties that helped them secure lower bids. from suppliers.

A deal with a new supplier could result in up to a 96% increase in electricity costs for the county, Schreiner said. The board of commissioners is due to approve a plan on Wednesday to secure a contract with a new supplier.

Soaring coal and natural gas prices have left the company underwater with many of its retail energy contracts negotiated before this year, according to documents Talen filed in federal bankruptcy court. Lancaster County’s last contract with Talen began about 18 months ago, Schreiner said.

It’s another example of how soaring energy prices and inflationary pressures in the labor market are adding to county spending.

On Wednesday, the board of commissioners is also expected to vote on whether to use money from the U.S. 2021 Bailout Act to reinstate the county’s lifeguard bounty. County officials are continuing a recruitment campaign for lifeguards after announcing that Lancaster County’s Central Park Pool will remain closed this summer due to a shortage of lifeguards. A previous $200 bonus for early applicants ended in April, according to Bob Devonshire, acting director of county parks.

The new lifeguard bonus would be $500, some of which may be offered to new recruits upfront, Devonshire told LNP | Lancasters online. The county would then pay the remainder of the bonus at the end of the pool season, Devonshire said, although those details are not final.

Last week, the council also approved a $3-per-hour wage increase for unionized employees of the county’s Child and Youth Social Services Agency.

In the past six months, the board also approved a contract to hire a private security company to help address the shortage of sheriff’s deputies, a $2.25 pay raise from the hours and retention bonuses of up to $12,500 for certain county employees represented by a union. , and raised pay to $23 an hour in December for Lancaster County corrections officers.

Despite the increases, Lancaster County’s budget projections for this year remain strong, county commissioners said Tuesday.

“So far so good, but we’ll see how things evolve later as costs continue to rise,” Republican Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The county’s budget has tightened over the past two years. In 2020, the county used one-time revenues to avoid a tax hike, making the budget technically out of balance for the first time in nearly a decade.

Lancaster County’s 2022 budget ended the practice of assuming salary costs at 100% of what they would be if a department were 100% staffed year-round. This year, departments have been budgeted based on the cost of existing staff over the past few years.

Democratic Commissioner John Trescot said after Tuesday’s meeting that the county has enough cash reserves to meet cost increases.

“Some of the cushion we were supposed to get until (the end of the year) is now less,” Trescot said.


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