Benefits of Public Power

Seven Ways Public Power Makes Austin Better

The secret is out. Austin and Central Texas is a great place to be. But the area hasn't grown to its international status on its own. Austin Energy, the City’s publicly owned utility, has supported the area every step of the way. Since 1895, we’ve done more in the community than just keep the lights on. We strive every day to be Customer Driven and Community Focused.

Here are seven ways Austin Energy makes the Austin area better because of our more than 120-year history as a public electric utility.

1.

Value for the community, not shareholders.

 
Zilker Park

Austin Energy is funded by our revenues, not taxes. We use our annual "dividends" to support important city services such as streetlights, parks, libraries and public safety. These local investments help drive economic growth and contribute to the Austin area's attractive and vibrant quality of life. After all, what would Austin be without our favorite outdoor spaces such as Barton Springs, the Hike-and-Bike Trail and Auditorium Shores?

 

2.

You've got the power.

 
Lineworker Rodeo

When you flip the switch and your lights come on, there's more going on behind the scenes than you may realize. We have a longstanding history of employing the best lineworkers in the business and the numbers to prove it. We strive to restore power to our customers as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible. This work is often quite hazardous. We place the highest priority on the safety of our crews and our customers. Although we are here to serve Austinites, we also help in emergency situations that happen across the country such as sending crews to help in Jacksonville, Florida, after Hurricane Irma and to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

We also want to make sure you are informed about outages at all times. Our interactive Outage Map and mobile Outage Alerts provide customers with the latest information about any outages in our coverage area. Our Outage Map now includes a Hazards layer, where users can view any known electrical hazards in our service area. Hazards can include downed power lines or poles, trees on power lines, electrical problems reported by our police or fire departments, and more. All parts of the electric system combine to help Austin Energy provide the most reliable energy to you, the customer.

 

3.

We put the "green" in green energy.

 
Solar Panels on Roof

It's always sunny in Austin. Okay, so that isn't always true, which can make generating solar power challenging. But we are committed to harnessing the power of the sun and the wind to provide carbon-free power to our customers. In fact, Austin Energy helped create the wind power industry in Texas and is leading the development of the solar industry, with a goal to meet 65% of our customer's energy needs with renewable generation resources by 2027. And let's not forget: We give our customers the choice to power their homes or businesses with 100% wind energy.

Austin Energy is the proud recipient of multi-million-dollar federal and state grants to help fund the design, deployment and demonstration of residential, commercial and utility-scale solar and energy storage. We have also installed more than 100 solar arrays at schools and municipal buildings in the Austin Energy service territory. These highly visible solar projects increase public awareness and educate our customers about the advantages of solar power.

 

4.

It's NOT about the money.

 
Summer Savings

You read it right. Unlike for-profit utilities, we want our customers' utility bills to be as low as possible because we are owned by the community. Because we're a city-owned utility, Austin Energy is able to make business decisions that are important to our customers, such as allocating millions of dollars to help low-income residents pay their utility billsWe provide emergency financial aid to customers in need, services for the medically vulnerable, and weatherization support to help eligible residents increase energy efficiency.

We’re okay with selling less energy because we want our customers to save energy and save money. We provide a wide array of rebates and incentives to help customers make energy efficiency improvements to their homes or businesses. We provide our customers with energy savings tips and a web app for customers to monitor their energy usage, and we also work with local retailers to provide instant savings on select energy-efficient products in stores because the less energy our customers use, the lower the energy bill.

Also, our residential customers' electric bills are among the lowest in Texas and rank lower than national averages. Looking statewide, Austin Energy has the second-lowest average residential bills, second only to El Paso.

 

5.

The green building movement started here.

 
Green House

Both Austin and Austin Energy know how to do things differently. Austin Energy Green Building was the first program of its kind in the United States and was the impetus for creating the U.S. Green Building Council and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings. As we look to the future, we see an Austin where sustainable buildings are the standard, not a novelty. Since the program began in 1991, we have rated about 15,000 homes — proving that a greener Austin starts at home.

 

6.

Bringing science to the students.

 
science fest

The energy industry faces big opportunities ahead, from energy storage to electric vehicles. Who better to take on the challenges of the future than our youngest residents? That's why we host the annual Austin Energy Regional Science Festival, the largest city-sponsored science fair in the country. Every February, nearly 3,000 elementary, middle school, and high school students  from 23 school districts in 12 surrounding counties compete for top awards and scholarships.

We also "take our show on the road" and present to schools all around Austin. We teach students in grades 3 - 5 about electricity and how to be safe around it through interactive labs and presentations.

 

7.

Moonlight towers stay in the spotlight.

 
Zilker Tree

Only 17 of Austin's original 31 moonlight towers — our first urban lighting system — remain, and they are the only working moonlight towers in the world. Without these historical light sources, we wouldn’t have the Zilker Holiday Tree or that memorable scene from the cult-classic film Dazed and Confused. As committed as we are to being technology innovators, we also cherish our history by restoring and maintaining these Austin icons. Alright, alright, alright.

 

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Date last reviewed or modified: 3/7/19

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