Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas


All About Austin Energy


Austin Energy is a public utility company in Texas with more than 400,000 customers in Austin and parts of Travis and Williamson Counties, providing service to nearly 1 million people. The company is publicly owned and returns annual dividends to the City of Austin that amount to about 25 percent of the general fund. Austin Energy uses nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable energy sources to generate power. It also boasts the largest green building program in the country and offers a solar rebate program to incentivize customers to install solar panels in homes and businesses.

Austin Energy has been criticized for raising customer costs in order to meet its renewable energy goals. Some critics have even called the utility a monopoly. Like many municipalities in Texas, the City of Austin does not allow residents to choose another power company that may offer lower rates. The Texas legislature considered a bill in the 2011 session that would have deregulated electricity in Austin, though the bill did not go up for a vote. Retractors of the bill noted that it only targeted Austin and not other cities in Texas with similar utility programs.

Austin Energy is considering changing its rates permanently in 2012. Representatives said the change will accommodate the rising costs of materials and employee salaries.

Austin Energy also faced controversy in early 2011, when many homes and businesses in the Austin area lost power during February’s rolling blackouts that left nearly a million Texans in the dark. The blackouts occurred during the coldest week of the year when record numbers of customers were heating their homes. Austin Energy and Austin’s City Council are looking into the matter.

Latest Posts

Near-Catastrophe During Flooding Highlights Issues at Dam in Austin

A lot of people who walk or drive past Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin probably assume it’s a natural feature. They appreciate the trails and parks that line the lake’s 416 acres, unaware of the series of floodgates on the Longhorn Dam that hold its waters in. But recent flooding along the waterway has […]

How Austin Lost Two Flood Gauges When It Needed Them Most

Early on the morning of October 31st, as waters rose to historic levels in Onion Creek, two of the flood gauges that officials rely on to monitor water levels weren’t working. The flooding heavily damaged more than 600 homes and killed five. One gauge was completely submerged by water, damaging the equipment, which isn’t waterproof. But […]

Utilities Across Texas Warn of Scams

Sometimes it’s a knock on the door, with someone telling you they need to check your electrical wiring. Perhaps you’ve gotten a phone call threatening to cut off your power if you don’t pay your electric bill immediately over the phone by credit card or within a half hour by wire transfer. Or maybe it’s someone […]

Powered by the Sun, But Off to a Slow Start

It’s a sweltering Texas summer day in late June, and here at the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 race track in Austin, the stands are empty. Just last fall, they were filled with fans witnessing the deafening roar of cars going upward of 200 miles an hour. But if you were to listen closely […]

Why a Truly ‘Green’ Car Race Might Not Be Possible for Formula One

Three model cars sit side-by-side on the windowsill of Zach Baumer’s office in East Austin, memories of a childhood spent with his family at Indy 500 races. “Growing up in Indianapolis, I just have sort of a thing for cars,” he says. “Not that I think we should be driving single occupancy vehicles! But … […]

How to Score a Free Toilet in Texas: The Water Rebate Round-Up

Photo by ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images At last week’s “Life By the Drop” panel on solutions for solving the water crisis in Texas, not everyone agreed on what the next steps should be. But there was universal acknowledgment that greater conservation efforts were essential for the state’s future. And Texas’ many water utilities aren’t behind the punch. Many have […]

Why an Environmental Group is Going After Austin’s Coal Plant

One environmental group believes that the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) needs something more than just a chimney sweep to clean up its act. LCRA was served with a notice of intent to sue last week by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), representing the Texas Campaign for the Environment. The environmental group’s notice of intent […]

Green Experiment Takes Root in Austin

The Mueller subdivision, just northeast of downtown Austin, is recognized as a haven for green building standards, energy conservation and environmentally-sustainable development. Smart appliance makers, sustainable home developers, renewable energy companies and green home builders are all using the Mueller development as a test ground for some of the most advanced home technologies in America. […]

Powering the Buzz of SXSW

What kind of effect does the massive influx of musicians, film buffs and techies have on the Austin’s energy?

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