Austin Energy Leads the Charge to Achieve Carbon-Free Electric Power
Pioneer. Innovator. Neighbor. Adopter. Investor. Protector. Community Partner. Leader. Each of these labels describes Austin Energy's commitment to environmental excellence.
Austin Energy is a Customer Driven and Community Focused utility with a forward-looking plan to reduce our carbon footprint. Austin Energy also partners with the community to help individual customers reduce their carbon impact and electric bills through energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, green power options, and clean transportation. By collaborating with customers, Austin Energy increases grid reliability and maximizes affordability.
Planning Ahead to a Carbon-Free Future
The City of Austin is working toward a community-wide goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, as outlined in the Austin Community Climate Plan. Meeting these carbon reduction targets has a positive effect on the climate and the community.
The benefits of reaching net-zero include reduced air pollution and improved air quality, a thriving local economy, reduced traffic congestion, greater affordability, and improved disaster preparedness.
As a utility of the City of Austin, Austin Energy is a part of the City's action to build a more sustainable community. To reach the Community Climate Plan goals, Austin Energy worked with local leaders to develop the Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2030. The Resource Plan to 2030 and Community Climate Plan outline Austin Energy's strategies to keep rates affordable while pursuing environmental leadership and goals, including:
- Achieving 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2035.
- Saving 900 megawatts through energy efficiency and demand response by 2025.
- Acquiring 375 MW of local solar generation by 2030.
- Supporting private-public partnerships that assist in the transition to electric transportation.
Leading Utility-Scale Renewable Energy
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the innovations in utility-scale wind and solar farms. Austin Energy purchased power from the first commercial wind plant in Texas in 1995, helping create the wind power industry in the state. The utility has not stopped there, leading the development of the solar industry in Texas as well. Austin Energy is supplying more green energy than ever and is creating clean energy jobs along the way to support the economy.
Austin Energy uses Power Purchase Agreements to purchase the wind and solar energy produced at large-scale renewable energy farms across Texas, from West Texas all the way down to the Gulf Coast.
As Austin Energy works toward 100% carbon-free generation by 2035, we continue to add more utility-scale contracts to our portfolio. In Fiscal Year 2021, Austin Energy:
- Supplied 41% renewable energy to meet customer needs.
- Purchased power from seven utility-scale solar farms and ten wind farms across Texas.
- Secured utility-scale renewable resource generation capacity of more than 2,866 MW, from wind, solar, and biomass.
Renewable energy generation costs have come down significantly in the past 20 years, but production is still dependent on weather conditions, requiring sunshine and windy days. This can make generating renewable energy more challenging and costly. With this in mind, Austin Energy has proactively and strategically built a renewable portfolio over time to reduce the cost impact on customers, keeping our rates affordable while our power becomes greener. Austin Energy is also leading the way on incorporating emerging technology and energy storage to increase the reliability and sustainability of renewable energy.
Giving Customers a Greener Choice
For customers who want to choose 100% renewable energy, Austin Energy offers GreenChoice®, the longest-running voluntary renewable energy program in Texas. Commercial and residential GreenChoice subscribers add clean energy to Austin's grid every day when choosing to meet their electricity needs with 100% renewable Texas wind.
Each municipally-owned building in the City of Austin is powered by GreenChoice. The City of Austin was the first large municipal government in the U.S. to power all City-owned facilities with 100% renewable energy. Plus, GreenChoice wind powers every electric vehicle charging station in Austin Energy's Plug-in EVerywhere℠ charging network.
Nearly 28,000 customers subscribe to GreenChoice, which translates* to:
- Removing the same amount of carbon from the air as more than 5.4 million trees.
- Avoiding more than 330,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
- Relying less on fossil fuels, reducing air pollution, decreasing water usage, and growing green jobs in Texas.
*The EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator is used to calculate equivalency numbers.
Helping the Community Embrace Solar
Austin Energy helps customers reap the benefits of the bright Texas sun. Rebates and incentives help customers reduce the cost of installing solar energy systems on their businesses and homes.
Austin Energy's rebate and incentive programs have helped grow the local solar industry. As residential and commercial solar participation increases each year, homeowners, multifamily properties, nonprofits, and schools have a cost-effective way to install more solar.
Austin Energy also provides residential customers with the choice to power their home with 100% locally generated solar energy through our Community Solar program. In 2018, Austin Energy expanded the Community Solar program with the addition of the La Loma Community Solar project operating in conjunction with the SHINES solar + storage demonstration project. Half of La Loma's production goes to Customer Assistance Program participants at a reduced rate, allowing low-income households to go solar while saving money from day one.
Empowering the Community to Reduce Energy Use
Perhaps the cleanest and least expensive power is the power not used. Energy efficiency saves customers money, advances the economy, and improves the quality of life while helping the environment. According to the Department of Energy, the average residential bill for Austin Energy customers is one of the lowest in the state. This is due to our commitment to ensuring affordable rates and our decades-long focus on energy efficiency.
Austin Energy strives to reach the goal of saving 1,200 MW through energy efficiency by 2030. Austin Energy is on track to meet this goal through a variety of programs. Austin Energy equips customers with tips and tools to lower usage and maintain savings in the long term. Additionally, community volunteers participate in demand-response programs that help consumers save money and keep the electric grid stable during peak demand. Popular energy efficiency and savings initiatives include:
- Weatherization Assistance that helps eligible homeowners and renters lower their energy bills with free home energy improvements.
- Thermostat Rebates for customers who install eligible smart thermostats and participate in the voluntary Power Partner℠ program.
- Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebates for home energy efficiency improvements to help HVAC systems in homes more than 10 years old.
- Instant Savings available at participating local stores on energy-efficient products.
- City of Austin Utilities Online Customer Care allows customers to monitor energy use and provides customized energy saving tips.
Seeking Sustainability in Building Construction
Buildings that use less power are more affordable to operate and have a smaller carbon footprint. The City of Austin created the nation's first green building program in 1990. Austin Energy Green Building is now one of the nation's most successful sustainable building programs, encouraging Central Texans to design and construct more sustainable homes and buildings.
Developing and maintaining our own Austin-specific rating systems helps Austin Energy carry out the City of Austin's ambitious climate protection goals. Austin Energy Green Building uses these ratings to pave the way for energy and building code changes to reduce building energy use.
Austin Energy Green Building contributes to our community-wide sustainability goals:
- As much as one-third of all the single-family homes and apartments built in Austin each year are green-rated homes.
- Since the start of the program, Austin Energy Green Building has rated more than 18,000 single-family homes.
- Most of the new commercial and multifamily buildings downtown and in large-scale developments are green building rated.
Plugging Customers Into Cleaner Transportation
Since motor vehicle emissions are a leading source of air pollutants,* Austin Energy makes it easier for customers to say goodbye to gas and drive electric with zero-emission electric vehicles. Easy to use, easy to maintain, and easy to charge, electric vehicles are fun to drive and can save customers money while helping the environment. Austin Energy provides charging infrastructure rebates and services to improve convenience for drivers, businesses, and developers interested in including EVs on their property. Austin Energy also offers rebates for electric bikes, scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles to make electric transportation more affordable for anyone on the road.
Plus, since 100% renewable GreenChoice wind energy powers the charging stations in Austin Energy's Plug-in EVerywhere℠ charging network, EV drivers can help the environment in many ways.
- The Plug-In EVerywhere network grew to more than 1,300 electric vehicle charging ports.
- More than 21,000 EVs drove on Austin roads.
- Austin Energy expanded EV charging and education in local schools.
*According to the United States National Institutes of Health
Austin Energy's environmental legacy includes more than 22 years of commitment to renewable energy and a green path forward to meet our 2050 goals. Here's a look at our renewable past, present, and future:
- Power purchased from first commercial wind plant in Texas in 1995.
- Investment in the largest solar installation in Texas at 30 MW in 2011.
- GreenChoice wind power available for residential and commercial customers.
- 2.6 MW of community solar power available for residential customers who cannot install home solar energy systems.
- More than 11,000 customers installed solar energy systems for their home and business through 2021.
- In support of reaching 100% carbon-free generation by 2035, Austin Energy supplied 41% renewable power in FY 2021.