Dear Editor, Austin Energy's proposal for Austinites to subsidize out-of-city ratepayers with a 6.1% discount is both offensive and absurd. We can all thank Mayor Lee Leffingwell, since he was the first to float the idea on his blog. So in his honor, let's call it the Leffingwell subsidy. Not only is it blatantly unfair to Austin ratepayers, but Austin Energy also recently signed a 10-year agreement to pay a 3% franchise fee to outside communities served by it. So why do they need an additional subsidy? As is often the case with Austin political decisions, this one would set a terrible precedent. No municipal utility in Texas offers a discount for out-of-city electric customers. In fact, with water rates, it is common practice nationwide to charge higher rates for outside residents. Does Leffingwell want us to give an upside-down subsidy there as well? Imagine the future annexation battles if the residents were suddenly told that their electric rate subsidy would go away. Maybe it's Leffingwell who needs to go away. I guess we'll see about that in May!
Bill Oakey, Former member, Austin Electric Utility Commission