Frequently Asked Questions About BPUB

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How much are board members paid? How are they chosen?

All board members, with the exception of the mayor, are appointed by city commissioners to serve four-year terms. After serving a four-year term, the board member is eligible to be reappointed for one additional four-year term but no more. This appointment is voluntary, and board members receive no financial compensation for the time they spend. Board members serve because they would like to do what they can to improve the city, and this is all done without payment.

Do BPUB employees receive free or discounted service?

All BPUB employees are required to pay the same rates and are subject to the same conditions as any other customer. BPUB employees are not given any special consideration for their bills. They still must pay their bills on time or face penalties. As a municipally owned utility, BPUB treats all of its customers the same, regardless of employment.

Does BPUB change its rates during the summer?

BPUB’s rates are not seasonal. The rates stay consistent throughout the year unless the Brownsville City Commission votes for a rate change or there was already a change scheduled. It’s very common for customers’ bills to increase during the summer. That’s because consumption tends to also increase during the hotter weather.

When South Texas finds itself in the midst of one of its hot summers, water in the form of rain can be scarce. That means more people are having to water their lawns to keep it green and to make sure other plants stay alive. Many will end up watering their lawns more to try to combat that heat and keep the grass looking lush and green as well. As people are often more active during the summer, many will get hot and need to drink more to stay hydrated, and there could also be additional showers and more loads of laundry. It’s easy to see how quickly your water bill could go up during the summer.

Those hot temperatures also make your air conditioner work harder. The warmer the temperature is outside, the more your air conditioner will have to work to cool your home to your desired temperature. Unless you adjust your thermostat to compensate for the higher temperatures, then your air conditioner will use up additional energy. That’s why it costs more to cool your home to 78 during the summer as opposed to the winter. Plus, for those parents out there, the children being home might also result in additional electricity being used, whether it be from a cooler house or more electrical devices being used.

When will the Resaca Restoration Project go to my resaca?

The Resaca Restoration Project is an ambitious long-term project that BPUB began in 2013 with four sites. Those sites (Cemetery Resaca, Dean Porter Park Resaca, Gladys Porter Zoo resaca system and Resaca Boulevard Resaca) have all been dredged, with tons of silt, sediment and trash being removed from those waterways.

From the beginning of this project, the community has shown a lot of support, eager for the next resaca to be restored. The BPUB is working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to determine the next moves for the Resaca Restoration Project.

It’s important to remember that all Brownsville resacas are not managed by BPUB. Other entities, including the local irrigation district, maintain and fill some Brownsville resacas, but BPUB’s ambition is to ultimately dredge all of the resacas in Brownsville. With current equipment, this endeavor will take many years, but BPUB is committed to protecting this valuable Brownsville resource.

Where does my electricity come from?

The short answer is that it comes from whatever source is the most efficient and cost effective for the customer. The longer answer is that BPUB owns the Silas Ray Power Plant in Brownsville. This natural gas-powered power plant is fully owned by BPUB. In addition, BPUB owns an 18 percent share in Oklaunion Power Plant near Vernon, Texas, and a 21 percent share in Hidalgo Energy Center in Edinburg. BPUB also fully owns the power produced by the Sendero Wind Farm in Hebbronville, Texas.

While BPUB might own power in all of these plants, there’s no guarantee that the electricity in your home originates from one of those plants. BPUB also will buy energy on the open market when it is more economical to do so. The idea is to deliver electricity to the customer in the most efficient and economical way possible.

Can I get my meter tested? I think my bill is wrong.

Customers often have concerns about account usage. BPUB wants to do everything it can to put those minds at ease and does perform meter testing for its customers.

Sec. 102-185 of Brownsville’s code of ordinances states: “Upon written notice, an electric meter will be tested by the public utilities board. If the meter when tested is found to be not more than two percent fast or slow, the expense of the test shall be paid by the consumer; otherwise the expense of the test will be borne by the public utilities board, and billing adjustments for a period not to exceed six months will be made.”

Any account holder who wants to get a meter tested can contact the BPUB Customer Service Department at 956-983-6100. As the ordinance states, if the meter is found to be not measuring correctly, a customer can see billing adjustments made as far back as six months. This is true whether the meter was running too fast or too slow. The cost of a meter test is $20.

I have a prior balance on an old account I had with BPUB. Can I open a new account?

Because the bills BPUB sends its customers is money owed to the residents of Brownsville, outstanding balances do not expire at BPUB. Those bills stay on the books until they are paid. If a prior account holder with an outstanding balance wants to open new service, the previous balance would need to be paid before doing so.

Sec. 102-7 of Brownsville’s code of ordinances states: “No utility service shall be furnished by the city to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason, except ad valorem taxes and special assessments.”

If you have an outstanding balance, contact the Customer Service Department at 956-983-6100 for ways to pay your bill.

 What is a municipally owned utility?

A municipally owned utility (MOU) is an electrical provider owned by the city or municipality that it serves. An MOU is nonprofit, putting money back into the care, upkeep and development of the city’s electrical system. BPUB is an MOU established in 1960 when Brownsville voters decided they wanted their utility controlled and managed locally as opposed to private companies. Decisions regarding BPUB are made by a local board and city commission.

Learn more about the history of BPUB.

Does BPUB have some kind of rebate program?

BPUB offers rebates for many different types of home improvements. The amounts of these rebates will vary, but it’s a quick return on an investment that likely will yield even greater savings in the years to come.

GreenLiving is the name of BPUB’s rebate program geared toward residential and small business customers. Some of the items eligible for incentives in the GreenLiving Rebate Program include:

  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Solar Screen and Films
  • Energy Star Windows
  • WaterSense High Efficiency Toilets
  • Attic/Ceiling Insulation

Visit GreenLiving to see a list of eligible products and read the terms.