The Austin Monitor reported on a City Council policy workshop with Austin Energy where participants discussed the possibility of deregulating the publicly owned utility. Council Member Don Zimmerman spoke in favor of deregulating the utility and giving consumers the option to choose their own energy providers. He expressed concern that the Texas energy market is too complex for the Council to manage the utility effectively.
No other Council members favored deregulation, however, and some spoke out against it. Council Member Leslie Pool stated that public ownership encourages accountability and transparency. Roger Duncan, a former Council member and Austin Energy general manager, suggested maintaining the public ownership structure but creating an independent board of directors to help manage the complex operations.
The Austin Monitor noted that since deregulation began in Texas in 2002, no municipal utilities have opted to deregulate, though the Nueces Electric Cooperative did so.