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Ruston voters approve LEPA membership

Nancy Bergeron
Saturday, November 18, 2023
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Ruston is on its way to becoming the newest member of the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority.

City voters on Saturday overwhelmingly approved joining the group. Complete but unofficial election returns show 1,238, or 71% of voters, favored Ruston’s joining LEPA, and 497, or 29%, opposed.

Voter turnout was a scant 16%.

LEPA is a partnership of municipalities that, like Ruston, own at least part of their electric system. Though LEPA sells wholesale power to some of its members, it’s the mutual aid aspect of the group that Mayor Ronny Walker was pushing.

“Now we’ll have 19 partners to help us with equipment and personnel if we need it,” he said Saturday night.

LEPA members send linemen to help sister municipalities get their electric systems back up and running in the wake of natural disasters or other catastrophic incidents.  Member cities can also get equipment, such as utility poles and transformers, from fellow members’ surplus supplies.

“I just appreciate the voters of Ruston hearing the reasons why (the city should be a LEPA member), and getting out to vote,” Walker said.

Ruston will become LEPA’s 20th member.

What’s next is the election results have to be certified by the Board of Aldermen, and LEPA’s board had to formally accept the city’s membership. 

Ruston will get a seat on LEPA’s board of directors, as well as potentially profit from the organization’s legislative lobbying efforts, Walker said.

Former Ruston Mayors John Perritt and Hilda Taylor Perritt wanted Ruston to join LEPA as far back as 40 years ago, but both failed to convince the-then Boards of Aldermen to call a referendum.

John Perritt, who was mayor when LEPA was created in 1979, wanted the city of be one of the group’s original members.