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Austin Energy May Triple Number Who Qualify for Low Income Help

Photo by BFS Man

Austin Energy is considering a small rate hike in order to finance an expansion of its low-income customer assistance programs. If the plan is enacted, it would triple the number of customers that receive discounts.

The proposal would add a surcharge of .065 cents to each kilowatt-hour. That amounts to an increase of about 65 cents a month for a typical customer’s electric bill, according to Ronnie Mendoza, manager of Customer Assistance Program.

Currently, Austin Energy offers a reduced rate to approximately 10,000 customers. The new plan would provide about 26,000 customers with a flat, predictable monthly discount of about $25 a month on their electric bill alone.

The plan includes education and conservation programs like weatherproofing low-income homes and community outreach programs that encourage energy conservation.

The proposed changes are the result of about a year of advocacy on behalf of low-income customers from local non-profits and Austin faith-based groups.

The exact scope of the project and its cost are still being explored and considered before a final recommendation is made.

Kelsey Sheridan is a news intern at KUT. She currently studies religion and journalism at Northwestern University.
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