Weather-Beaten but Still Ticking

City lands $900,000 for weatherization but Rábago no longer heads program

Last week's surprise announcement that the city had regained financial footing in its weatherization program was followed by another surprise on Tuesday: Austin Energy's Karl Rábago, vice president for distributed energy services, is no longer overseeing the program. Anthony Snipes, chief of staff for City Manager Marc Ott, made the announcement at Tuesday's meeting of a weatherization subcommittee made up of minority business representatives. Snipes said the program for low-income residents would be handled through the office of AE General Manager Larry Weis.

Meanwhile, at their first meeting of the year, Jan. 12, City Council members are expected to sign off on a large and unexpected sum of federal stimulus dollars that had been given up for dead in Novem­ber because of a colossal misstep at City Hall. The $900,000 in funds – $500,000 more than what the city was initially set to receive – will cover the cost of weatherizing 182 low-income apartments, according to a memo Ott sent to the mayor and council Dec. 29. (See Ott's complete memo, posted Dec. 29, on our Newsdesk blog.)

Besides the originally designated 54 units at Mt. Carmel Village Apartments in Central East Austin, the money will also fund weatherization work for 128 more at the Chase Village Apartments near Highway 183 and I-35. (The Tuesday meeting also included discussion about how the for-profit property owners appear to be benefitting from the program more than low-income homeowners.) Ott said in his memo that he had assured the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs, which allocated the funds, that the city had resolved the conflicts leading up to the city losing $400,000 to weatherize the Mt. Carmel apartments. The issues contributing to the funding loss are still rather murky, due largely to buck-passing and what appears to be strong personality and policy differences involving Austin Energy leadership, including Rábago; the City Manager's Office; environmentalists; and minority contracting representatives, who say the utility had not followed city procedures when awarding contracts for the weatherization work. For now, the respective players appear willing to cooperate and move ahead in a timely manner – the funds must be spent by March 31 – because nobody wants to be accused of losing nearly $1 million.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More weatherization
Opinion: The Texas Grid: A Tale of Profits Over People
Opinion: The Texas Grid: A Tale of Profits Over People
One year after Winter Storm Uri, Rep. Gina Hinojosa reflects on still-needed improvements

Rep. Gina Hinojosa, Feb. 18, 2022

Top 10 Environmental Stories
Top 10 Environmental Stories
Drought, wildfires, and more WTP4

Amy Smith, Jan. 6, 2012

More by Amy Smith
The Work Matters
The Work Matters
A look back at some of our most impactful reporting

Sept. 3, 2021

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014


weatherization, Marc Ott, Austin Energy, City Council, Karl Rabago, Karl Rábago

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle