AUSTIN (KXAN) - Next month, almost everyone will see an increase in their Austin Energy bills, and it will be Austin's houses of worship that see some of the steepest increases.
Austin City Council recently approved the first electric rate increase for Austin Energy customers in years. One of the biggest changes is not in homes, but in houses of worship. Churches, temples and other religious facilities will no longer be charged at a residential rate, but at a commercial rate, based upon weekday usage.
But there are programs to help churches, temples and synagogues make the transition. Austin Energy is changing out meters for some 550 houses of worship. Many of those religious institutions are taking advantage of new software programs that help them track and control energy costs.
Austin Energy also is helping churches make their energy use more efficient by allowing them to participate in a small-business lighting program, which has been available to only a select few customers. The program can discount the purchase of energy efficient lighting by up to 75 percent.
That's a big savings because lighting can account for up to one-third of an electric bill.
Austin Energy's new rate plan goes into effect in October. The current proposal will increase the rates of the average homeowner by about $8 a month.
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