Power outages due to severe winter weather continue, ‘too early to predict’ when power will be restored

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Photo Credit: Blaine Young | Daily Texan Staff

Power outages have been affecting some customers since early Monday morning after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas called for rotating outages to turn off power for two million homes in Texas. 

The outages were supposed to last for a short time and affect different people throughout the rotations, but some Texans have reported being without power since the announcement was made at 1:25 am. 

Austin Energy’s outage map is reporting three outages in West Campus with over 2,300 customers affected and North University has one outage with over 1,800 customers affected. (These numbers are current as of publication, but they are constantly fluctuating. The most updated numbers can be viewed here.) Nearly 200,000 total Austin Energy customers across the city are experiencing hourslong outages, according to the Austin-American Statesman. 

During a press conference Monday afternoon, Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy general manager, said it’s “too early to predict” when power will be restored in Austin, and Austin Energy is waiting on direction from the Electric Reliability Council. 

“We want our customers to know we’re doing everything we can to work through this ongoing and fluid situation,” Sargent said. “We strongly urge our customers that still have power to greatly reduce the amount of energy that they are using to help conserve as much as possible.” 

Sargent said people can reduce their energy usage by turning their thermostats down, closing window blinds and turning off or unplugging unnecessary devices. 

Sargent said circuits that do not contain critical locations such as hospitals were disconnected. 

“The amount of load that we needed to remove from the grid was significant and it was in just a matter of very short time that we maxed out on all of the available circuits that we have to disconnect and not interrupt critical load,” Sargent said. “Basically we’re stuck here until we can get some reprieve from ERCOT and can start releasing some of those circuits.”

Mayor Steve Adler said about 2 million Texans are without power. He said people needing a warm place to stay can call the cold weather shelter hotline at 512-305-4233. 

“We’re all in this together,” Adler said. “There are 2 million people across the state of Texas dealing with this very same thing. Folks are working really hard to get power back on, but it could be a while.”

Gov. Greg Abbott said on Twitter that the power grid has not been compromised. He said some companies that generate power are unable to because of freezing weather. The Electric Reliability Council and Public Utility Commission are prioritizing residential customers, according to the tweet. 

Juan Ortiz, director for the City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management,  said 911 calls are still operational, but 311 calls are having some technical issues, as is the http://austin.gov website.

Ortiz said four full weather shelters and a warming center have been opened in the city, and more will be opened today. He said they expect to reach a capacity of 450 available spaces, and 282 people were sheltered Sunday night. 

Ortiz said people will be taken to different shelters from the Palmer Events Center, but he did not say where the shelters are located. He said the city is using locations it has previously used, and they are spread out over the city. 

Ortiz said there have been reports of water outages but nothing that caused a “major loss of water.”