Austin Public Sector

The City of Austin has shown a sustained commitment to developing its renewable energy infrastructure. Beginning with its innovative GreenChoice program in the late 80’s, Austin has been among the most fervent of US cities leading the charge for renewable energy integration. In the 1990’s, when Texas passed legislation to deregulate its energy market, Austin was one of the few Texas cities to retain control of its municipal utilities. By abstaining from deregulation, Austin maintained a higher capacity to alter its resource mix in accordance to the needs and desires of local residents. Today, Austin Energy the 8th largest publicly owned utility in the US. Austin’s utility also has strong connections with local university. The city’s clean energy initiatives receive substantial support from the University of Texas, whose Energy Institute is at the cutting edge of energy challenges and opportunities. Within this institute, UT’s Webber Energy Group and Pecan Street Inc. are particularly influential local actors, researching clean-energy initiatives such as the newly launched Austin Shines Program, which tests performance and efficiency of multiple scales and of solar plus storage combinations.

Currently, 23% of Austin’s resource mix comes from renewable energy sources, compared to 10% for Texas as a whole and 13% for the US more broadly (Austin Energy 2017). Austin Energy holds a Resource Planning Working Group every two years (or so), where a “representative sample” of the community come together to learn about Austin’s energy needs and resources, and to develop a plan for transitioning to lower-carbon fuels, but within the affordability rates set by the state.


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Created date

January 3, 2020

Cite as

James Adams. 3 January 2020, "Austin Public Sector", Disaster STS Network, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 28 July 2020, accessed 6 December 2021.