Austin Utilities Looking to Build New Facility

Updated: 02/04/2014 5:33 PM
Created: 02/04/2014 5:32 PM
By: Dan Conradt

They're calling it a blueprint for the future.

And the goal is “efficiency”.

“We have electric department here, meter shop here, a warehouse over here, a garage at another site," said Austin Utilities General Manager Mark Nibaur.

A year and a half ago, with its facilities scattered around the community and growing older, the Austin utility board hired an architect to help plot a course for the future.

"We're looking at repurposing some of our facilities, or we're looking at a new facility,” Nibaur explained.

One of the proposals was for a new central facility on a 23 acre parcel of land in the Austin Industrial Park. Austin utilities bought the land and named it “Energy Park". The new facility carries an estimated price-tag of 15 to 21 million dollars.

"The repurposing of our existing facility is still in that $13 to $15 million range, so that's kind of why we're looking at a new facility," utility GM Mark Nibaur explained.

Regardless of whether the future brings a new building or a repurposing of an older one, the utilities will issue bonds to pay for the project. 

"There would be some rate implications based off paying off that principal and interest as time goes on."

Austin utilities estimates that it could raise the bill of an average residential customer between $5 and$ 6 dollars a month, or between $44 and $70 dollars a month for a small medium sized commercial customer.

At the same time, the improved efficiencies of having its facilities at one site could save the utilities $2.5 million dollars over ten years.

And if all goes according to plans ...

"We would look to do a final architectural design late this year or early 2015," Mark Nibaur told ABC6 news. At that point, the utility board would make a final decision on whether to build a new facility, or remodel an old one.

"We'd start that process in 2015 would be our goal for completion sometime in 2016," Nibaur said.