If you believe a utility system should be responsive to the needs of residential and low-income consumers, then our municipal system wins hands down in comparison to the private, for-profit companies. I base this conclusion on 30 years of experience as an advocate for residential and low-income utility consumers working with utility stakeholders at the Public Utility Commission, ERCOT and at the city of Austin....
As part of its last rate increase, Austin Energy asked to increase the monthly charge on our electric bills from $6 to $22. An advisory committee and the Electric Utility Commission sent this recommendation to the City Council. When ordinary citizens asserted themselves and explained that the charge discourages energy conservation and would be an unreasonable burden for low-income households, the monthly charge was set at $10 and the customer assistance program for low-income households was expanded. This is a good example of how community access to decisionmakers can turn the tide in the consumer’s favor.
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