Every year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration posts an annual benchmark report of all electric utilities in the U.S. The Final data from the 2017 EIA-861 is now posted. It has mostly good news for Austin Energy (AE).
Average Residential consumption continues to be profoundly low for AE. This is in all likelihood because of its conservation programs, building codes, green building program, and progressive rate structure.
Austin Energy is part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, which supplies about 90% of the state’s electric load. Only 1% of ERCOT Residential customers have consumption lower than AE customers, and AE customers are 25% below the ERCOT average. Only 3% have average bills lower than AE customers. Only 34% of ERCOT Residential customers have rates lower than Austin.
The Commercial class does not look as good. This is because all you can compare with EIA data here is the rate. It is not proper to compare average Commercial and Industrial class bills or consumption. Unlike Residential, which has one main type of building stock, Commercial and Industrial contain a myriad of building types, and various utilities have different definitions of what these rate classes are anyway.
In Commercial, 54% of ERCOT customers have rates lower than AE. So it is on the high side, though not egregiously.
For Industrial rates, 51% of ERCOT customers have rates lower than AE. So Austin is very close to its goal of being no higher than the average for utilities in the state.
If a benchmark study could be done across ERCOT, it would probably find that Austin’s commercial buildings have lower usage compared to buildings in other major Texas cities because of our conservation programs and building codes.
Note: Austin Energy will eventually conduct its own analysis. AE will likely compare Austin with Texas, not ERCOT. El Paso Electric is not in ERCOT, and is in a different climate zone. The analysis will likely show that El Paso has lower Residential consumption than AE. However, I do not think this is a fair comparison. Comparing ERCOT customers is apples-to-apples.