Energy in the News: Why Austin utility bill discounts aren’t just going to the poor

Why Austin utility bill discounts aren’t just going to the poor

By Lilly Rockwell – Austin American-Statesman, Posted: 12:01 a.m. Monday, Dec. 1, 2014

As a luxury home builder, Majd Hinedi lives in pretty nice digs himself. His 6,315-square-foot West Lake Hills home is valued at $1.2 million and sits in a cul-de-sac. According to online real estate database Zillow, it has five bedrooms, a pool and a guest house.

But…He is getting a discounted rate on his water, wastewater and drainage fees by being part of Austin Energy’s “Customer Assistance Program,” which is designed to give reduced rates and fees to low-income customers.

An analysis of water and drainage customers on the Customer Assistance Program by activist and consumer advocate Paul Robbins, who obtained the information through an open records request, shows that more than 1,100 people in this program — about 6 percent of the recipients — have homes valued at more than $300,000.

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