City Council weighs another Austin Energy bill hike
Conservation-minded retirees Dale and Pat Bulla do everything they can to keep their bills down — they paid a mere $10.83 per month for electricity last year in their Northwest Austin home — but a key Austin City Council decision on Thursday could ballon that utility charge.
The big picture: Austin Energy has proposed a service hike driven chiefly by the higher costs of natural gas.
- The city-owned utility has also floated eliminating the current tiered rate structure that encourages conservation.
Details: The utility proposes raising the monthly service fee from $10 to $25.
- In October, the Austin City Council added $15 a month to the typical resident's bill through fuel and regulatory charges.
Zoom in: The Bullas — Dale is 76 and a retired school teacher; Pat is 80 and a retired university instructor — live in the Jester subdivision.
- Their home sports plenty of south- and north-facing windows to catch the low-flying winter sun. However, to reduce the amount of direct sunlight, it has a few that face east and none that face west. The windows, which cost almost $20,000, use a special glass to block out heat.
- Shade trees, high efficiency heating and air-conditioning units, ceiling fans, a programmable thermostat, solar panels and a metal roof that reflects sunlight contribute to their energy savings.
- They also drive a Tesla.
By the numbers: That monthly bill could triple, to more than $30 per month, once the rate hike settles out.
What they're saying: "We're fixed income, we're retired and we want to save money — and we want to leave a livable planet to the next generation, so we try to conserve as much as we can. We don't think we should be penalized for that."
What we're watching: How the Austin City Council squares balance sheet demands and community values.
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