Austin Energy residential customers to see reduced rates
Having trouble paying your summer electric bills? The Austin City Council today made some changes to help lower your future bills.
At first the council was looking at distributing rate relief using a “the more you spend the more you save” model with the highest ratepayers getting the biggest decrease and the lowest ratepayers actually getting a small rate hike. But today they changed their mind and decided to give rate relief to everyone.
Austin Energy has long used a five tier rate structure: the more electricity you use, the more it costs per kilowatt hour. But power users balked at paying so much more for the same electricity, so the Austin City Council at first considered increasing the cost for the lowest ratepayers ever so slightly to give the top ratepayers some relief. Austin Energy Robert Cullick explains, “That was our projection and we looked at it and we had a lot of public discussion about that and there are folks who don’t want any increase in the tier 1 rates every customer pays.”
And that’s what the council agreed to today. After the vote Mayor Steve Adler said, “What we did today was lower electric rates for everybody in the city.”
The top residential ratepayers won’t be getting as big an increase as first forecast so the bottom ratepayers can also get a reduction. But Mayor Adler says everyone still gets a break, adding, “I anticipate when we go over the budget process in the next few weeks consumers in this city will see an overall decrease in their combined utility bills, both electric and water.”
Richard Halpin with Austin Interfaith chimed in, “Everybody gets a decrease. And in this day and time for our utility to give everyone a decrease is a major step forward.” Affordability advocates applaud the action as a step in the right direction. Halpin says, "We at Austin Interfaith are pleased that everyone worked so hard to create a decrease for all Austin ratepayers and particularly for those neighbors who are most at risk.”
Austin Energy calculates the average annual savings will range from $4 to $76 per tier. And the city stresses you can increase your savings by practicing good old fashioned energy conservation.