BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Brownsville Public Utilities Board is admitting some responsibility in the failed $118 million dollar Tenaska Power Plant scandal.
BPUB released a 900-word statement where they admitted the plan was a bust.
“Customers should have been kept better informed about the progress of the project and the funds associated with it,” BPUB stated.
The statement also addresses the issue of customers losing trust in the board.
“We understand that the trust many of our customers have in BPUB has been shaken and that is something that might take a long time to restore, and we are here to put in the work needed to make that happen,” the statement reads.
In total, BPUB collected just under $114 million. Of that, $11.3 million was transferred to the city and $29 million was put in the Tenaska Equity Fund. Customers were given back just over $73 million through the bill reduction program. According to BPUB, an external audit is in progress to confirm those numbers.
BPUB hired an external auditor to review all Tenaska-related funds, with a report expected by the end of February.
In 2011, Tenaska, an energy company based in Nebraska, presented a plan to build an electric generating facility with the Brownsville Utilities Board. The plant was intended to “provide hundreds of construction jobs,” as well as be able to provide electricity for nearly half-a-million Texas homes, a Tenaska fact sheet stated.
BPUB agreed to own a portion of the power plant. Utility rates were raised for several years to raise funds for BPUB’s share of ownership.
In October 2022, BPUB voted unanimously to place CEO and general manager John Bruciak on paid administrative leave for 60 days after the release of the audit detailed the failed power plant. On Jan. 4, BPUB held a special meeting where they accepted the retirement of Bruciak.
Since the release of the audit, the city of Brownsville has rolled back the base electric rates by 22%. BPUB has also initiated the process to distribute the $29 million left over in the Tenaska Equity Fund.
“We know that this is just the start of what we need to do to rebuild trust, and we will continue to do what is needed to become a better utility for our community,” the statement reads.