ePlan Review Update

The City of Austin’s Development Services Department’s Commercial, Residential and Expedited Building Plan Review teams are now accepting electronic plan submissions through ePlan Review, an electronic plan and document management system. This tool provides a convenient central hub for development project groups (including applicants and City reviewers) to communicate and complete the entire plan review process online, from the initial application stage to final approved plan sets.

ePlan Review saves customers substantial time, money and resources by:

  • Reducing travel time to DSD’s offices at One Texas Center on Barton Springs Road.
  • Allowing plan uploads from anywhere, anytime
  • Improving turnaround times and accuracy with collaborative reviewing
  • Reducing paper, printing, fuel, storage and disposal costs.

To use ePlan Review, applicants must first create an active user internet account by registering on the Austin Build + Connect (AB+C) website. Once registered, complete the appropriate permit application and submit to the appropriate review email below:

Paper applications may also be delivered to intake staff on the 2nd Floor of One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road.

Once a completed application and payment fees are received, the applicant will receive an email from DSD to upload the required drawings and documentation. The drawings and documentation will then be distributed to the appropriate plan review staff for review.

Please note ePlan is mandatory for all Expedited Commercial permit applications.

Visit the ePlan webpage for more information.

Austin Energy News Flash

In an effort to keep you informed, we wanted to let you know of a new solar leasing pilot, as well as to warn you of scammers posing as City of Austin Utilities representatives.

Update 1: Solar leasing pilot
Austin Energy now has a pilot program offering Performance Based Incentives (PBIs) for commercial customers who want to use an operational lease to go solar. Operational leases can help make going solar even more attractive. With little to no up-front capital cost, companies will not have to use their working capital toward a solar investment. The lessor monetizes federal tax credits and depreciation on behalf of customers, so you can leverage the federal tax credit without tax liability. The solar assets are off the balance sheet with an operational lease. Lease payments are considered an operating expense that reduces taxable profit. Find out more about Austin Energy’s Solar PBI  by visiting the website today.

Update 2: Watch out for scams
Please be aware that scammers are targeting businesses in the Austin area with fraudulent emails, phone calls and even text messages. They pose as representatives of City of Austin Utilities and tell customers that service will be disconnected unless immediate payment is made. 

We want you to know that City of Austin Utilities will never:

  • ask customers for credit card or bank account information over the phone
  • ask customers to purchase or pay via gift cards or prepaid debit cards
  • ask customers to make a wire transfer or pay by Bitcoin

The City of Austin Utilities Customer Contact Center does not call residential customers with cut-off deadlines. (Note: Commercial customers may receive a courtesy call two days prior to scheduled cut off for non-payment.)

 If a customer receives a phone call or email threatening to interrupt service, demanding immediate payment or requesting credit card or bank information, they should dial 3-1-1 and report the incident immediately. If any customer is uncertain of their account status, they should call 512-494-9400 or visit our Online Customer Care Portal.

For questions, please contact Murray Jones at Murray.Jones@austinenergy.com or 512-972-7636 if your facility is north or Neil Leach at Neil.Leach@austinenergy.com or 512-972-7885 if your facility is south. We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

Thank you very much for your time. We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

 Sincerely,
Kerri Davis
Kerri Davis | Manager, Commercial & Key Accounts | Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs Rd. | Austin, TX 78704 | 512-322-6574

Beware of Scams Targeting Local Business

The scammers are active and have been targeting Austin businesses and residents claiming to be Austin Energy. At least one AIBA member has been hit with this so beware. Multiple phone and email scams are targeting utility customers in Austin, including commercial customers. Telephone or email requests for payment using credit or money cards to avoid shut-off are not from Austin Energy or City of Austin Utilities Customer Care.

We will:

  • Never ask customers for credit card, Bitcoin, or bank account information
  • Never ask customers to purchase gift or money cards over the phone
  • Never ask customers to make a wire transfer

If customers receive a phone call or email threatening to interrupt service, demanding immediate payment, or requesting credit card, Bitcoin or bank account information, they should hang up and dial 3-1-1 report the incident immediately. If a customer is uncertain of their account status, they should call 512-494-9400 or visit our Online Customer Care Portal (https://coautilities.com).

More information is available on our website at https://austinenergy.com/ae/residential/report-a-problem/report-telephone-scams

City of Austin Development Services Department Partners with Austin 311

Anyone who has used Austin 3-1-1, the City of Austin’s one call for information and answers, knows how effective the resource is. Staffed by a knowledgable crew, we’ve found them to be exremely helpful. Often, when members contact AIBA about a question or issue, we refer them to 3-1-1 because it’s the quickest way to find what you need.
Over the past few months, 3-1-1 has met with the Development Services Department (DSD) to learn about the services provided, and have undergone extensive training in navigating the DSD website and online tools to learn where to find information for the customer and how to direct customers to find information in the future. In September 2018, 3-1-1 became the primary point of contact for all calls to the DSD. Callers dialing DSD’s primary phone number, 512-978-4000, are automatically routed to 3-1-1 Ambassadors who will provide immediate, responsive and quality customer service to DSD customers seeking assistance and guidance 24/7, including holidays.
Along with improved customer service, this partnership will also:
·      Support continuous service in the event of a City shutdown due to inclement weather
·      Provide a memorable phone number for DSD customers to easily remember
·      Track the rate of responsiveness to customer inquiries
·      Track types of calls and frequently asked questions, which will help in improving DSD’s service levels.
If the requested information is not available or rises to a technical level, 3-1-1 will generate a Service Request routed to DSD Customer Service Representatives. Each request will be assigned a tracking number, which the customer can use to recall their request if they have follow-up questions and view their request status online at 311.austintexas.gov.
DSD is a partner of AIBA which allows us a closer relationship to work together and help local business. This is just one of many improvements coming you way!

Join DSD for a webinar to review new Project Dox enhancements

Project Dox, the ePlan software utilized by DSD will be upgraded on September 22, 2018! The new version 9.1 features several improvements to increase usability.
The upgrade will be completed in two phases:
• Phase I rolls out September 22 and allows the use of any browser to view drawings and PDF files. Other enhancements include a better screen layout, ability to search and sort all columns, and more intuitive button names. Additionally, Project Dox now integrates with Bluebeam for file review.
• Phase 2 will be launched later this year and will include a more streamlined workflow and simpler one-step task acceptance, file upload, and completion.
View screenshots of some of the enhancements.
For more information, contact Christopher Summers.
NEXT WEEK
Applicant Overview webinar
Wednesday, September 19
12:00 noon – 1:00pm

Rate Savings From Austin Energy

In an effort to keep you informed, we wanted to notify you of proposed pass-through rate changes.
Each year during the City of Austin budget process, Austin Energy trues up fees and charges paid by customers that are “pass-throughs.” These are charges meant to collect what we actually pay as an expense and include power supply costs, customer support programs and transmission services, among other items.
There is good news this year for commercial customers. We recommend dropping that basket of charges for a net decrease of 0.2 percent system-wide. As always, the effect for each customer will depend on your rate class and how you use energy.
We propose no change to the base rate, which last changed in 2017 and provided a $37.5 million cost reduction for commercial customers.
The Austin City Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 11 on the budget and proposed pass-through rate changes.
Significant changes in the fees include a reduction in the Power Supply Adjustment of 2.4 percent and a reduction in the Regulatory Charge of 1.6 percent. These reductions are partially offset by an upward change in the Community Benefit Charge. As over or under collections occur, adjustments are subsequently made in pass through charges.
The Key Accounts Budgeting Tool has been updated with these proposed rate changes. You can see the impact on your bills and budget accordingly.
 If you have any questions or need access to the Budgeting Tool, please contact your Key Account Manager. We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve you.
Sincerely,
Kerri Davis
Kerri Davis | Manager, Commercial & Key Accounts | Austin Energy
721 Barton Springs Rd. | Austin, TX 78704 | 512-322-6574