After a rash of local and national press about the recent failure of Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program, Austin Energy has decided to re-evaluate their pricing structure. The city may be able to reduce the cost of the program by as much as 25%. Turns out Austin Energy was overly conservative in their estimate of how much it would cost to deliver wind power, so they can knock the price back down without taking a hit. Roger Duncan, AE’s General Manager, has also suggested spreading out remaining transmission costs to all customers.
Though some non-GreenChoice customers may object to being saddled with this slight extra cost, GreenChoice customers have to pay the same amount as traditional customers for upkeep and maintenence of dirty energy sources, so it evens out. The other option to make the who-pays-for-what game fair would be to charge GreenChoice customers a pro-rated maintenance fee for the percentage of fossil fuel and nuclear power they received — but in order to do that Austin Energy might have to go and raise everyone else’s maintenance fee to fill in the gap, so rates could go up anyway. Spreading transmission costs sounds like an easier way to accomplish the same goal, and is consistent with “the policy of all 850 American electric utilities with a program similar to GreenChoice,” according to a memo from Austin Energy to the City Council. Plus, the switch would add less than a cent to everyone’s bill.
Roger Duncan will go to the City Council August 20th to ask for the new rate change and cost distribution.