Lakeway, Steiner Ranch residents fight Austin Energy rate increase

A group of Austin Energy customers who live outside the City of Austin are gathering signatures to bring an approved rate increase before the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

On June 7, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a new rate structure for Austin Energy customers that does not give a discount to customers outside of the city limits.

Under the rate increase unanimously backed by Austin City Council, the new rate structure will occur in two phases—the first beginning in October and resulting in about an $8 increase per month for the average household.

AE is a city-owned utility, and a portion of a rate increase would go back to the City of Austin general fund.

Austin City Council considered giving a discount to customers outside of the City of Austin but decided against it.

Lakeway Councilman Alan Tye said a rate increase essentially pays a part of the City of Austin's budget for which customers outside of Austin have no benefit.

The Homeowners United for Rate Fairness, an association of Austin Energy customers who live outside of Austin, has launched a campaign to collect 3,000 signatures to challenge the rate increase. With 3,000 signatures, AE will have to defend the rate hike before the PUCT.

The PUCT can direct AE to change its rate increase if it is deemed unfair.

There are approximately 450,000 Austin energy customers who live outside of Austin, with approximately 2,100 of the customers in Lakeway.

The Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association has mounted a canvas campaign to help gather a portion of the signatures. The petition is available at several businesses in the Steiner Ranch area and can be signed and dropped off at Cups and Cones, 2900 N. Quinlan Park Road, Ste. 290.

The City of Lakeway has copies of the petition at City Hall, 1102 Lohmans Crossing Road.

The signatures must be turned in by the end of July.