Repowering Downtown Austin

Ensuring Reliable Power for the 21st Century

For more than 70 years, the City of Austin's electric utility has designed, constructed, and operated an exceptional, high-capacity downtown network to promote a compact, aesthetically pleasing central business district. The network brings power created elsewhere into the area and transforms it by feeding power into high-voltage power lines that, in turn, feed closed vaults that serve downtown buildings through a system that is primarily underground.

Downtown Power is Nearly at Capacity

The rapid pace of development downtown is now close to exceeding the electrical facility requirements needed for the near- and long-term future.

Downtown Austin will be at an increased risk of recurring power outages if electric capacity is not increased and electrical equipment is not upgraded. Reliability will suffer and the system will not meet customer expectations unless several actions are taken within the next 10 years.

Austin Energy's proposed electric system improvements serve our customers in an area where the State of Texas has designated the utility as the provider of electrical power distribution. Simply put, it is Austin Energy’s responsibility to plan for and construct the improvements needed to keep up with current growth.

An Additional Downtown Electrical Substation is Needed Now

The Downtown Austin Plan adopted by the Austin City Council in 2012 identified the need for a new substation in the fast-growing Rainey Street District to serve this part of downtown and redevelopment along Waller Creek.


  • A third downtown electrical substation needs to be built to ensure businesses and residents have reliable, resilient and redundant electrical service as the vibrant downtown Austin continues its expansion of office, commercial, and residential development.
  • A third substation also allows the aging Brackenridge substation and transmission lines bringing power into downtown to be upgraded in a timely and efficient manner to meet future needs.
  • The more than 40-year-old Brackenridge substation cannot be rebuilt and the transmission lines cannot be upgraded without first building a third substation that would support downtown energy needs and allow the Brackenridge substation to be taken offline for construction.
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The Project

Austin Energy is proposing to build a modern, innovative substation uniquely suited for a parcel owned by Austin Energy at 55 East Avenue in the Rainey Street area.

Austin Energy — with approval from the Austin City Council and extensive community input on the design and name — is building a modern, innovative substation uniquely suited for a parcel owned by Austin Energy at 55 East Avenue in the Rainey Street area. The Rainey Street Substation will be unlike any substation built before in Austin in its design, aesthetics, innovation, and sustainability.

Rainey Street Substation Rendered view of art installation

Construction of the Rainey Street Substation includes:

  • Work to move existing water and wastewater lines from the property into the existing City of Austin street right of way. This portion of the project was completed in Spring 2020.
  • A change in the property's zoning from Residential to Public. Neighbors within 500 feet will be notified about the opportunity to provide input on this change.
  • Construction of the substation and surrounding landscaping from throughout 2021.
  • Construction of both underground and overhead power lines to tie the new substation to the downtown grid. This work will continue through 2022.
  • The Downtown Repowering Project also includes the upgrade of current transmission lines that power downtown to increase their capacity so they can bring in more power and improve reliability for the entire downtown network grid.

Estimated Project Timeline

  • Summer 2018 to Fall 2019 — Engineering and design work, and community engagement process
  • Spring 2020 — Relocation of existing water and wastewater lines
  • Spring 2021 to Spring 2022 — Substation construction
  • Spring 2022 — Energize substation

Community Engagement

To assure that public desires for the project were understood and evaluated, Austin Energy has hosted an extensive public engagement process.

Community engagement occurred in three phases and resulted in the design of the surrounding wall, streetscape, and landscaping.

Get Involved and Stay Up-to-Date

Learn about upcoming community meetings, view the results of public involvement efforts, and subscribe to periodic email updates

Elected and appointed officials will have multiple opportunities to review the project as it makes its way through the City Council, Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee, the Electric Utility Commission, the Zoning and Planning Commission, and the Design Commission.

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Date last reviewed or modified: 5/22/20


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