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Central Texans experiencing summer sticker shock over high electric bills

Austin-area residents are paying the price to stay cool this summer. With temperatures staying in the triple digits, utility bills are skyrocketing.

AUSTIN, Texas — With temperatures consistently in the triple-digits, Central Texans have been asked to raise their thermostats a few degrees to help with the state's power grid.

But trying to cool down can cause utility bills to go up, and what many are learning is that the cost of keeping cool is causing some to get hot under the collar when they get their bills.

When the time comes to pay bills, the cost is centered around how much a household uses. Austin Energy sells electricity to residential customers in kilowatt-hours. According to the utility provider, a typical resident consumes 850 kilowatt hours per month, so that person would see an increase of a little over $15 to their electric bill. 

Jake Salinas has lived in Austin his whole life and said he's been seeing a huge increase in his bills. That increase has resulted in him having to set his thermostat to 78 degrees, sometimes even 85 degrees, to save money. 

"My bills are a lot higher than they typically are. Usually, they are, for this apartment, around $90 to maybe $100. But my bill is getting up to $150 to $160 per month," Salinas said. 

Salinas said if his bill starts to increase even more, he might be left having to look into Austin Energy's budgeting programs.

"Everybody's bills are up. I imagine it's significantly more if you're in a big house or a bigger apartment. My apartment is right under 700 square feet, but it still costs a lot of money to keep this place not like a sauna in here," Salinas said. 

Austin Energy's base rate review process will last into the fall and then ultimately be voted on by the Austin City Council. Taxpayers could see increased costs in their energy bills by January 2023. 

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