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Consumer Advocate Named in Austin Energy Rate Redesign

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Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News
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An advocate for ratepayers has been named in the rate redesign process.

Bill Marcus, principal economist at California-based JBS Energy, will “serve as the City of Austin’s new consumer advocate in the Austin Energy rates process,” according to a statement from the utility. Marcus was named by City Manager Marc Ott following interviews with a total of five finalists.

Marcus has served in a similar role before, in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s rate redesign process in the early 1990s, according to his bio on the JBS website. Marcus’ firm, JBS, characterizes itself as a “consulting firm specializing in economics, engineering and advocacy for energy producers and consumers … We work with energy consumers to reduce energy use and costs both at their individual facilities and for utility systems, and we analyze the equitable distribution of costs to utility customers.”

A consumer advocate was called for by opponents of the rate increases as drafted, who argued there wasn’t a party during the redesign process agitating on the users’ end.

The Austin City Council is holding the third of 11 work sessions addressing the rate increases today. The meeting is at City Hall at 2 p.m.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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