Austin churches oppose increase in electric rates

by Donny on January 13, 2012

Churches in Austin are coming together to oppose an increase in electricity rates. Church officials say the increase hinders them from being able to reach out to the community.

One local pastor says the cost of electricity already weighs down the church and increase would take away funds otherwise used for community programs such as Meals on Wheels and others.

Unlike many other cities in Texas, Austin is regulated, which means it’s up to the local government to decide which energy company supplies service to people in the area. Austin Energy services the area and hasn’t raised its rates since 1995 but this increase will probably cost churches about 30 percent more for electricity.

“All utilities in Texas have churches in the commercial class expect for Austin,” Ed Clark, Austin Energy spokesperson said. “What we are doing is assigning churches to the customer class that most closely matches the way churches use electricity. We think the community wants us in decent financial shape, so it’s time now for an increase.”

The city council plans to make a decision soon, but it will likely take at least two months before any changes will take full effect.

As for whether or not Austin will ever become deregulated like many other Texas cities remains to be seen. Chances are, the city has no plans to go in that direction but it’s obvious changes are coming one way or another.

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