Did you know the Austin City Council is considering reorganizing Austin Energy? Austin Energy is the only public utility of its size currently run by an elected city council in lieu of an independent appointed board. As you can imagine, when you operate an electric utility, there are a lot of important decisions to make daily. So, does the City Council really have the time or expertise to make these decisions? The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) doesn’t think so. We believe that the utility should be restructured to be controlled by an empowered and appointed board of experts that have both the time and knowledge necessary to operate the utility like the multi-million dollar business that it is.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why does this matter to a homeowner or average Austinite?” Well, what’s more important than affordable and reliable electricity? Every homeowner needs to know that his or her lights will turn on and the air conditioner will run, especially in those hot summer months. Securing that reliable source of electricity requires a fiscally sound and stable utility, and that’s not how Austin Energy has functioned over the last few years. From 2007 to 2011, the utility’s general fund transfer to the City of Austin grew from $77 million a year to $105 million, yet the utility lost a total of $245 million. If we ran our homes and businesses like that, we would be in big trouble. The best way that we can ensure that we have access to the electricity we need is to properly manage the public utility that serves most of Austin and a significant portion of Central Texas.
There has been a significant amount of discourse over this issue, as well as some misinformation about the details of the possible restructure. We want you to stay informed, so here are the facts:
- The city charter already gives the council the ability to set up an independent board for Austin Energy.
- The proposed independent board would remain accountable to the Austin City Council.
- The Council will select board members that reflect Austin’s values and have industry knowledge.
- By setting up this independent board via ordinance, versus a charter revision, the Council would be able to act quickly should the independent board make any decision that is not aligned with our community values.
- With an independent board, efficiency, not politics becomes the priority.
Austin Energy cannot produce the environmental and social benefits it currently does unless it remains financially solvent.
ABoR is looking out for homeowners in Austin and the surrounding Central Texas communities because this issue directly impacts you. Tell us what you think and stay engaged as the issue progresses by checking AustinHomeSearch.com for updated information on the restructure of Austin Energy.