Austin Energy

Energy & Environment
4:32 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Austin Energy OKs Deal For Texas' Single Biggest Solar Farm

Austin Energy has signed a deal with Reliant Energy to build the largest single solar facility in Texas by 2016.
flickr.com/demmbatz

Austin Energy will soon be getting more of its power from the sun.

The city-owned electric utility has signed a deal, announced today, with a San Francisco-based firm to build the single largest solar facility in Texas by 2016. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Recurrent Energy will build a 150-megawatt solar farm in West Texas.

Austin Energy spokesperson Carlos Cordova says the deal will help the public utility and the Austin City Council to achieve two goals – "to have 200 megawatts of all of our energy derived from solar power, and 35 percent of all of our energy be derived by renewable energy."

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Energy & Environment
9:05 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Meet the Answer to Texas' Air Conditioning Issues

The Nest smart thermostat.
flickr.com/dan_h

From StateImpact Texas:

For years, Texas has struggled with how to solve its energy crunch: forecasts said not enough power plants were being built to meet the demands of a growing population and a booming state. But it turns out the state’s supplies are likely adequate. Despite all the growth in Texas, peak power demand hasn’t increased as fast as expected.

To understand why, it helps to start with those long, hot Texas summer afternoons just six months ago.

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Energy & Environment
10:21 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Memo Cites Legal Hurdles for City to Get Out of Coal Plant

A memo from the City of Austin Law Department cites bond debt, ERCOT regulations and an LCRA agreement as obstacles in abandoning the project that provides 20 percent of Austin's energy.
Photo by KUT News

This is an excerpt from an article written by our Austin City Hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor (formerly In Fact Daily).

The City of Austin faces formidable legal hurdles and, potentially, significant costs if the City Council decides to sell or shut down the city’s share of the coal-fired Fayette Power Project, according to a new city Law Department memo.

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Energy & Environment
6:30 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Austin Church's Solar Project Could Shine Soon

From StateImpact Texas:

The promise of harnessing the power of the sun and turning it into renewable energy has attracted countless businesses, governments and environmental groups. But it might be a church here in Austin that ends up bringing one of the next breakthroughs in solar technology.

To understand the scope of this project, it helps to know that Saint David’s is no little roadside chapel. The Episcopal Church in downtown Austin fills up a whole city block. It provides your typical church services and then some.

“We have a coffee shop, we have a restaurant, we have a pre-school for children,” says Terry Nathan, the parish administrator. “The better part of our basement is dedicated to a homeless center." The Church keeps a staff of caterers for its side business hosting events, and has a bookstore and parking garage, which they make available for commercial use. All that takes a lot of electricity.

So about ten years ago, church members got the idea to put solar panels on the parking garage. But they didn’t take the plunge until last year. That’s when low interest rates, improved technology, and government rebates all came together.

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Arts Eclectic
1:14 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Forklift Danceworks and Austin Energy Join Forces for 'Power UP'

Power UP is an arts project featuring eatures dozens of workers from all parts of Austin Energy.
Forklift Danceworks

KUT's Arts Eclectic feature on "Power UP"

Over the past several years, Allison Orr's Forklift Danceworks has staged performances featuring, among others, roller skaters, Elvis impersonators, and sanitation workers. The Trash Project, the large-scale performance they produced with the City of Austin Sanitation Department, won multiple awards and was the subject of the documentary film Trash Dance.

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Austin
3:50 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Council Tables Independent Oversight For Austin Energy

A split City Council groudned the idea of an independent board for Austin Energy today.
I-Hwa Cheng, KUT News

The City of Austin cooled the idea of creating a board to oversee Austin Energy.

The original idea was to form a board whose members are more knowledgeable than city council members are about the electric utility industry, but after concerns that its members would be insufficiently accountable to voters, the plan changed, leaving the proposed board with less authority.

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City Hall Hustle
4:13 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

City Hall Hustle: Council Talks Austin Energy, Ethics & Obama

There's plenty of council action both inside and outside City Hall this week - including a meeting with President Obama.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Hustle on a surprisingly busy week for the Austin City Council.

How powerful should an independent Austin Energy board be?

That’s the question the Austin City Council is asking itself. Right now, the council governs the city-owned utility. But council members are talking about turning over that power to an independent board. And haggling over the power of this unelected panel continues to dominate talk at City Hall.

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City Hall Hustle
4:17 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

City Hall Hustle: Hazy Outlook for Austin in 2014 City Budget

Contract negotiations with Austin’s public safety responders cloud a complete picture of the 2014 budget.
Polcie photo Nathan Bernier; EMS photo Daniel Reese; Fire photo Callier Hernandez

The Hustle on the city budget, Austin Energy and more

Last week, the Austin City Council got its first look at the numbers for next year’s budget.

The financial outlook? Well … we’ll get back to you about that.

The thing is, Austin’s currently negotiating its three public safety contracts – police, fire and EMS. And budget staff call those contracts a wild card in the city’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

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ENERGY
6:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Texas Nuclear Reactor Resumes Operation

South Texas Project, a nuclear power plant of which Austin Energy is a partial owner
STP Nuclear Operating Company http://www.stpnoc.com/photo.php?pageID=30

Austin Energy is getting some of its power again from the South Texas Project. STP is a nuclear power source in the Bay City area where one of four reactors was offline for the past few months because of a fire outside the unit.

On Tuesday it started operating again.

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Austin
8:00 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Why an Independent Board for Austin Energy?

Jessie Wang, KUT News

The Austin city council moved one step closer Thursday night toward creating an independent board to oversee the city-owned electric utility – Austin Energy. The council approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance has to be approved on three readings.

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Austin
8:10 am
Fri April 12, 2013

First Step Towards (Weak) Austin Energy Independent Board

Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

The Austin City Council took the first step last night towards moving the governance of Austin Energy from the council to an independent board.

The council unanimously approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance will have to be approved on three readings.

Council members did make several changes to the original proposal last night – weakening the power of the independent board and giving more oversight back to council.

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Austin Energy
4:27 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Groups Urge City to Hold Vote on Independent Austin Energy Board

A coalition of activists, environmentalists and public citizens expressed concerns over City's move that would take away public accountaiblity
Ann Choi KUT News

A group of activists are adamant that only elected officials make up Austin’s Utility board.

Today at City Hall, a coalition of environmental groups urged the city council not to vote for an ordinance that would have non-elected individuals oversee the city-run utility, Austin Energy.

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Austin City Council
8:45 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Quick Turnaround Expected for Austin Energy Governance Study

Council members hope to review a study of utility governance before voting on whether an independent board should be installed at Austin Energy.
I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

The Austin City Council has approved a study of public energy utilities governed by an independent board. But the city will have to work quickly.

The item comes as the council looks to create an independent governing board for Austin Energy. The council has traditionally overseen the utility, but that was before Austin Energy’s recent rate increase, which created political pressure that some feel could ultimately deregulate the city-run utility. Now a council majority appears supportive of handing off day-to-day operations.

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The Lead
8:45 am
Mon March 11, 2013

The Lead: SXSW in Full Swing, Breastfeeding Bills, Electric Bikes

Crowds outside the Paramount Theatre for SXSW Film on Friday.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It's feeling like a spring break week in Austin with highs in the 60s and 70s. And, of course, South by Southwest is in full swing.

Lead Story: Tens of thousands of badge-toting visitors are in town for "South by." That may mean some traffic congestion. Check out this interactive map of road closures to help guide you through it.

South by Southwest Interactive and Film continue as preparations for the Music portion of the festival ramp up. Music starts tomorrow.

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Austin
6:56 am
Fri March 1, 2013

City Council to Vote on Austin Energy Rate Case Settlement (Update)

"HURF" says a two tier rate system is more fair.
flickr.com/alexyorke

Update: The special meeting will take place this afternoon at 12:30 p.m .

Original Story (Feb. 27, 7:34 a.m.): The Austin City Council is holding a special-called meeting on Friday to vote on whether to approve a settlement with Austin Energy customers who live outside of the city limits.

The group Homeowners United for Rate Fairness or "HURF" appealed to the state’s Public Utility Commission—saying the Austin Energy rate increase that went into effect in October was too high and the new rate structure was too complicated.

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City Hall Hustle
5:14 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

City Hall Hustle: The Return of Short-Term Rentals

A protest outside City Hall last summer, calling for stricter short-term rental regulation. The council is scheduled to revisit the topic this week.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Short-term rentals rears its head again

The Austin City Council convenes this Thursday to a 78-item agenda. And one item – on first glance – might strike fear into the heart of even the most hardened council watcher: short-term rentals.

Or maybe not this time. In contrast to the council’s hard-fought first-round of rental regulation, the sponsors of Item 40 – the rental resolution – see it as more of a clean-up item. With the number of properties participating in the city’s rental registry painfully low, the measure creates new classes of rentals – like renting one room, instead of an entire dwelling – and creating fines for unlicensed rentals – up to $2,000 a day.

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Texas
6:58 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Central Texas Cleaning Up After High Winds (Update)

A downed tree on the UT campus.
Emily Donahue, KUT News

Update (6:58 a.m.): About 1,200 Austin Energy customers remain without power this morning. High winds yesterday broke tree limbs and brought down power lines.

At one point yesterday afternoon, around 18,000 Austin Energy customers were without power.

Right now, Austin Energy repair and tree trimming crews are working to fix harder-to-reach problems. An Austin Energy spokesperson tells KUT News that power should be restored to most customers by early this afternoon.

Customers should report outages by calling (512) 322-9100.

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City Hall Hustle
4:16 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

City Hall Hustle: What’s Next for the Council and Austin Energy?

An Austin Energy truck makes repairs in the West Campus. The city council is debating whether an independent board should oversee the utility.
I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

The Hustle on all things Austin Energy

It isn’t everyday that citizens stay late into the evening to tell the Austin City Council what a good job it’s doing. But that was the case last week.

“You’ve guys have won awards – dozens and dozens and dozens of awards – for being the most innovative, green, efficient, well-managed, best customer satisfaction utility in the state of Texas,” environmentalist Tom “Smitty” Smith with Public Citizen told the council. “And you want to change this?”

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Austin Energy
8:29 am
Fri February 15, 2013

At Council: Independent Austin Energy Board Gets First OK

Right now, Austin is the largest city in the U.S. where the city council governs a municipal energy utility.

Despite protests from some clean energy and consumer advocates, the Austin City Council voted unanimously last night to take to the first step towards creating a board of legal and energy experts to oversee Austin Energy. 

The resolution directs the city manager to develop the ordinance that will outline the dynamics of this board by March 21. While the board will oversee Austin Energy, city council will retain final approval of electric rates, transactions of more than $100 million and any board nominees.

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The Lead
9:09 am
Thu February 14, 2013

The Lead: Vote on Independent Austin Energy Board, SXSW Film Wristbands on Sale

Some wonder if city council should be tasked with managing a utility the size of Austin Energy
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Happy Valentine's Day! The National Weather Service says Austin is looking to stay sunny with high 60s in this afternoon. 

Lead Story: Austin City Council votes today on a measure that could create an independent board to oversee Austin Energy. The resolution is sponsored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Bill Spelman. 

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