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Austin Energy Touts Solar Rebates As Cost Savings For All Customers
Solar energy is promoted as free power from the sun. But here in Austin we're all paying for it. Every year Austin Energy spends $4 million of the money it collects from all its customers on a rebate program to help some customers go solar.
Last year alone they helped 463 customers install solar electric systems, bringing the total since the program began in 2004 to a whopping 1,900.
But how does spending money to curb electricity use help the customers who aren't part of the program? It turns out that having more customers use solar during those hot summer days cuts down on the peak demand for electricity. Carlos Cordova with Austin Energy says, "It's those hours that cost us the most. So anything that we can do to reduce that peak brings our overall cost down." Spending $4 million a year on solar saves them having to spend even more to build and maintain generating capacity that is only needed at peak times.
And if Austin Energy does need more electricity in the future, they're not going to get it from conventional sources. They hope to get 35 percent of their electricity from alternative sources like wind and solar by the year 2020.
By Fred Cantu