News source: Austin Energy Statement
Austin Energy provides stable, affordable electric rates to all its customers. We are aware of media reports regarding potential massive electric bills for non-Austin Energy customers and want to stress to our customers that Austin Energy will not benefit financially in any way from this winter storm event.
The customers impacted by major bill spikes are seeing electric rates controlled by variable price billing and are therefore vulnerable to sudden price swings from the wholesale energy market, both increases and decreases. In contrast, Austin Energy’s base rates are fixed and any changes must be authorized by Austin City Council, our governing body, after a thorough rate review process.
City Council directed Austin Energy to adjust customer’s base electric rates most recently in 2017 when rates decreased 6.7%. Part of Austin Energy’s rate structure is a Power Supply Adjustment (PSA). Austin Energy charges customers what it costs to provide power to the community. It covers fuel for our power plants, the cost of electricity purchased from the grid and any net revenues or losses experienced as Austin Energy produces and sells power to the grid. The PSA is reviewed annually. City Council last directed Austin Energy to reduce the PSA by 1.9% in November 2020.
Austin Energy will evaluate the impact, or the cost, of buying electricity from ERCOT, minus the net revenue from generating electricity during the winter event. The electric utility will then have a better indication of the financial impact on the PSA and make recommendations to City Council.
Residential customers are billed for their actual energy usage, measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), recorded from their electric meter. Anyone without power during this time period had no electric use recorded from meters during these outage events. Austin Energy customers are charged only for the power consumed and will be charged at the existing rates as approved in the November 2020 rate tariff. If a customer consumed higher than average kWh, their electric bill will be higher than a normal month. If a customer consumed less than their average kWh, their bill will be less than a normal month.
Austin Energy offers customers insight into their usage and bills at COAUtilities.com, giving information they need to manage their accounts and bills. Auto Pay is a free service and customers continue to receive a bill for review before it is drafted. Customers with questions about auto pay can visit COAUtilities.com or call 512-494-9400