7 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.

In honor of Public Power Week (Oct. 7-13), here are seven ways the Austin area is better because of Austin Energy’s 121-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 the best lineworkers in the business and the numbers to prove it. When things like storms or traffic crashes cause our customers to be without power, we have them back on in about 65 minutes. That's well under the industry standard of about 112 minutes. While we are here to serve Austinites, we also help in emergency situations that happen across the country such as sending crews to help in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

 

3.

We put the "green" in green energy.

 
Solar Panels on Roof

It's always sunny in Austin. Okay, so that actually isn't always true, which can make generating solar power both challenging and costly. 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 commitment to achieve 65% 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.

 

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 bills. And through energy efficiency education and rebates, we empower the community to take steps to reduce energy use where they live, work and play.

 

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.

 
2018 Science Fair

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, where more than 3,000 elementary, junior high and high school students compete for top awards and scholarships. We also “take our show on the road” and present to schools all around Austin.

 

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 historic light sources, we wouldn’t have the Zilker 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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Last Updated: 10/10/18