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Austin Energy holds public hearing on base rate increase on Dec. 1

Higher pass-through rates already took effect in November.

AUSTIN, Texas — Energy bills could soon go up even more in Austin.

In mid-November, the city council held a public hearing on possible base rate increases for Austin Energy customers.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but Austin's Electric Utility Commission is recommending that any increase in the basic customer service fee cannot be more than 20%.

The city council heard from the public last month, with some saying a rate increase would disproportionally affect poorer Austinites.

"I firmly believe that it, being a public utility, should be serving in the public good. And right now, the proposal disproportionately increases low and moderate-income families, while lowering more affluent household bills collectively and simultaneously disincentives energy conservation, which I think goes in direct contrast of our goals as a city to be as climate-friendly as possible," said one person who showed up to voice their opinion.

Others at the public hearing argued the rate increase would discourage energy conservation.

"Every home insulation investment or any type of energy efficiency investment makes 50% less sense. Every attic insulation project, every window replacement, every Energy Star appliance. None of this will likely make any financial sense anymore," another person said.

On Nov. 1, higher "pass-through" rates took effect for Austin Energy customers.

Officials with Austin Energy had said rate increases are necessary to have a balanced budget.

The city council held another public hearing on Dec. 1. The potential vote was set for Dec. 2 but was postponed to until the council's next meeting on Dec. 8.

 Any new rate changes are expected to take effect in February.

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