Austin Energy says customers should not expect massive electric bills

After some Texans reported thousands of energy bills following the recent blackouts that plagued the state this week, Austin Energy says its customers shouldn’t expect the same.

In a press release on Saturday, Austin Energy said it was aware of recent media reports of massive utility bills, such as an Arlington family reporting a $ 17,000 ten-foot bill over five days, and that they wanted to emphasize to their customers that “Austin Energy will in no way benefit financially from this winter storm event.”

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“Those customers who experience major billing spikes see electricity tariffs controlled by variable pricing and are therefore vulnerable to sudden price fluctuations in the wholesale energy market that go both up and down,” said Austin Energy. “In contrast, Austin Energy’s base rates are fixed and any changes must be approved by Austin City Council, our governing body, after a thorough review of the rate.”

According to Austin Energy, part of the tariff structure is a Power Supply Adjustment (PSA), which is reviewed annually. The utility says the city council last ordered it to reduce its PSA in November 2020.

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“Austin Energy charges customers the cost of powering the community,” said the utility. “It covers the fuel for our power plants, the cost of off-grid electricity, and any net income or loss from Austin Energy producing and selling electricity to the grid.”

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Austin Energy says it will evaluate the cost and impact of purchasing electricity from ERCOT minus the net income from electricity generation during the storm, and then get a better indication of the financial impact of the storm on the PSA. At this point, the utility company will make recommendations to the city council.

Reuters reported last Monday that real-time wholesale prices on the state’s power grid hit more than $ 9,000 per megawatt hour late Monday morning. One megawatt hour corresponds to around 1,000 kilowatt hours.

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According to Austin Energy, its customers will only be charged for the electricity they use and will be charged the existing tariffs approved in the November 2020 tariff. If a customer uses more than the average kWh, their electricity bill will be higher than a normal month. If a customer uses less than their average kWh, their bill is less than a normal month. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average US private utility uses approximately 877 kWh per month.

Austin Energy customers can access for their usage and billing information, and provide information they need to manage their accounts and bills. Customers can also sign into AutoPay while still receiving invoices for review. Customers with questions about AutoPay can go online or call 512-494-9400

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