State Watch

Texas utility: Power outages could last another week or more

Utility trucks are lined up on a Texas road
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Texas utility company Austin Energy announced on Wednesday that customers should prepare to remain without power for the rest of Wednesday and potentially another week or more.

In a series of tweets, Austin Energy stated that a Wednesday morning ice storm in addition to the snow that has hit the state in recent days has caused more power outages in its service area.

The company reported many customers who may have had power could expect to have it knocked out by the ice storm.

Austin Energy explained that the prolonged outages are occurring in an effort to help maintain The Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s (ERCOT) electric grid. It has faced backlash for keeping power on in downtown Austin for the duration of the controlled outages, according to local NBC News station KXAN.

“The downtown network is excluded for now from load shedding (power outages) during controlled outages mandated by ERCOT. This is a complicated, inter-connected network which includes critical buildings like the Dell Seton Medical Center, warming centers, the COVID-19 Alternate Care Site, Capitol Complex and Austin City Hall, as well as other critical infrastructure and government buildings. Shutting down the downtown network would also cut off electricity to these critical buildings, which may also house vital communications equipment,” the utility company told the news outlet. “Austin Energy is working with the Building Owners & Managers Association and the Downtown Austin Alliance in asking their members to curtail non-essential power use.”

Nearly 185,775 people in Austin are reportedly without power, local NBC News station KXAN reported. Almost 35 percent of those outages are Austin Energy customers.

Austin Energy has asked for customers to prioritize their safety in the wake of the power outages, urging families to go to local warming centers and to contact 311 if they are in need of transportation. 

Tags Electricity freeze Power outages Texas Winter storm

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