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Electric Utility Rate Increase -- What You Can Do
by Tom Goodman
January 31, 2012

A note from our business administrator, Gene Chappell....

The rate increases proposed by Austin Energy have created concern and discussion on all sides.  Of particular interest to churches is the proposal to begin charging commercial rates to houses of worship.  This would result in significantly higher energy bills that many churches will find difficult to absorb.  At Hillcrest, our projected increase under the current proposal is 44%, or $15,000 per year.  For context, JUST THE INCREASE is more than any one of the following budgets at Hillcrest: Adult Education, Youth, Children, or Music.  It would take 1.5% of our 2012 budget to cover the increase, and electricity would become our most expensive non-personnel budget item.

Under this proposal, residential customers are looking at a 20% increase, while churches would rise an average of 80%.  Most churches will have to make some drastic cuts, and it is even anticipated some smaller churches will have to close their doors.

We have set up a web site to make it easy for you to ask the City Council to find a better answer.  If you have been reading the articles in the Statesman, you will know there are many alternatives rather than this increase.

Please go to

On this site, you can sign the petition.  There are also links to the Statesman articles and other educational resources.

Austin Energy is a department of the City of Austin, not an independent company.  They report to the City Council as does any other city department, so the Council is in total control of this decision.  With Austin Energy generating over 1 billion dollars in revenue and the Council redirecting 150-175 million dollars per year from this revenue stream, it will be a very political decision.  Numbers are critical.  Take a minute to help out.  Also, use whatever avenues of influence you have to get others to sign the petition.  If the vote were taken today, it would be 4-3 in favor of the rate proposal.  We lose as a church, and every residential customer loses!

If you want to see who has signed the list, click the link for "List of Participants."  It will list all the participants, grouped by church, so you can easily see how well our congregation is doing.

Gene Chappell