Texas, Power outage, Energy Austin Energy provides latest update on outages across Central Texas

Greater texas is facing generational weather challenge to include rain wind, sleet, freezing rain, cold and snow. The weather pattern is predicted to linger well into next week with repeated iterations of day to day changing severeness of weather. As you well know, austin energy has experienced outages that started thursday at about 10 am, and we have a ford forecast that calls for even worse weather, to include several inches of snow in the coming days. I’M. Here in part, to reassure you that austin energy is working around the clock to address this extraordinary and involving situation. Let me reassure you that austin energy staff to include operations, personnel line workers, vegetation management, substation, electrician customer service personnel and many others are working tirelessly around the clock to one restore electric service as fast and safely as possible. We’Re also working to communicate the status and provide updates as fast as accurately as possible. We are working to evaluate existing and approaching storm conditions while dynamically mobilizing resources, our personnel and our critical equipment. Also, importantly, austin energy is bringing its assets to bear and providing storm resilience, and this can be seen in a variety of ways of ways. First, off our power production facilities are generating power to meet the electric consumption needs of this community. Additionally, our transmission facilities are foundational to assuring reliable and a resilient backbone electric system, and then also our distribution facilities or lower voltage system is delivering local power directly to your home, and safety remains our top priority as well.

We do have instances of downed power lines and electric lines down power poles as well, it’s important that the public refrain from touching or approaching upon these uh down hazards, and we are doing all we can to remove them as fast and promptly as possible. Let’S take a look at situational awareness, and these are unique challenges that we have in relation to the storm event. We have freezing temperatures, icing conditions on vegetation and infrastructure that continues to impede our restoration efforts. Additionally, there are instances when the wind picks up breaking and bending heavily ice tree limbs and in turn, these limbs are contacting power lines and causing sustained, repeated and additional outage. As these incidents happen, you might observe that there are fluctuations in our outage numbers or on our outage map at, be sure that these circumstances are unique and very situational. In that nature, we often refer to these as re outages or recurring outages. So as an outage is restored, it may reoccur, and this is making it very difficult for us to provide concise and exact estimates for for service restoration. We continue to ask for your patience as we work through this process. Please be assured, we are working around the clock and we will continually work around the clock to re, to restore your service and making repairs to the system as needed. Looking specifically at the northwest geography of our service territory, it’s been a very challenging area due to a variety of reasons.

The northwest tends to be an area where some of the sleet events have passed through our territory, and so they are specifically impacted. In addition to that, there’s very challenging topography in that area, limiting our infrastructure and ability to access our infrastructure, there’s, canyons, ravines, limited access, rough terrain, but again, i’m, here to assure you that our crews are working hard in these difficult conditions. As we face those multiple hazards, we are doing everything we can to turn your lights on safely. Understanding that working with high voltage electricity is a hazardous occupation and we’d. Ask that you keep those line, workers and those people in harm’s way in your thoughts as they go about their restoration efforts. I’D like to talk about some details. We are making progress as of 4 pm. Today we had 987 customers out of service. This outage event started thursday evening and at its peak we had 49 600 customers out. Looking in terms of progressions friday morning, we had 11 700 customers out again at this time at 4 pm earlier today, we had less than a thousand customers out, but while we are improving, i want to convey that we are urgently actively and working safely to try To restore those remaining customers that that remain out when we look at our resources, fortunately, austin energy has many resources to bring to bear to address these outages. We are current. We are continually evaluating our resources capability. We have added true strength, has measured since the day.

This this event began thursday, we’ve added line workers and we are evaluating adding even more vegetation management personnel and we are looking at adding a staff through potential mutual aid considerations. In summary, in regards to my uh my remarks here, these continued and recurring outages are likely to continue as this bad weather persists. As we look ahead, we have cold temperatures ahead of us. We are asking that you also conserve energy to help us reduce peak demand. There will be more to come in that area as that cold frontier from approach again, we ask for your continued patience, and i want to reassure you that we are diligently working around the clock to understand your energy needs and with that jennifer, with those prepared prepared Remarks i’m willing to take questions excellent, so i will get started with some of the questions that were submitted so hold type. Let me get that pulled up all right i’m, going to start with a question from you. It is what is austin energy doing to prepare for more potential outages, as we anticipate more winter weather in the coming days, that’s a very good question, one of the things that we have to have at austin energy, and we do is situational awareness awareness. We look ahead, so we’ve got the snow event coming. We’Ve got potentially sleep happening in across midnight on tonight. We have crews in advance, prepared to address those. We have uh crews that are staying overnight in certain areas close to the response, centers, so there’s, a variety of things.

We are doing to prepare uh on the power supply side. We are doing things to make sure our power plants are capable and able to to produce uh, so there’s a number of preparedness, uh actions that we are taking almost too many to to communicate. Uh here, unless there’s, a specific, pointed area that you have in regard to our preparedness, great go to question number two, which is from cbs austin. What is the most challenging thing for cruz right now, that’s also a good question. One of the most challenging things is the characteristic of this particular outage. We are looking at nominally a seven day outage um these this weather event isn’t from forward forecast isn’t supposed to break until perhaps thursday of this coming week. This is a seven day. Generational event, as i mentioned earlier, so one of the most challenging thing is is associated with what i call re outages, the recurrences so at any given hour like if you go back to thursday, for instance, when the icy conditions first hit. We may restore 10 000 customers only to have maybe 12 000 customers go out on new outages and, as we chase those twelve thousand new outages and restore those, we may have another ten thousand customers uh that go out again. These icy conditions, uh the vegetation that is damaged, broken compromised. The winds that may come in it’s three outage occurrences that make this particularly challenging. If you compare that to a tornado event, that might happen, the tornado event is a sustained event that may last a number of hours and it’s over and now you have generally speaking blue skies to to repair.

This is a recurring event and that’s. What requires extreme patience, because this is uh to a degree, a marathon, as opposed to a like our january 10th outage was a 24 hour sprint if you will, and that was a january 10th snow event. I should say this is a long, sustained, very dangerous situation and that’s one of the reasons i’m here uh today to communicate uh the duration and severity of this incident of this situation. All right go to question. The next question it is from kxan has opened energy, and you address this a little bit in your remarks. But um has austin energy addressed the glitches to the outage maps, which show that the power has been restored to areas that are still without power. Is the current map accurate? The current map is the best available information that the public facing can see. We have made continuous improvement to the outage map. We have enhanced its accuracy, but at the end of the day, if there is any questions associated with your outage condition that you have ambiguity on we’d, ask that you call austin energy all right now for the next one. This one is from the austin chronicle, though this weather is notably severe. Would you say, city and austin energy are prepared as prepared as we can be for freeze or ice storm? Would you repeat that question is austin energy is possible for the freezer ice storm? Yes, yes, though, the weather is notably severe, would you say that the city and austin energy are prepared, as we can be for freeze or ice storm? That is a broad question.

I would say absolutely. We are prepared again you’re talking about a once in a 50 year event. Our polls, our infrastructure, is designed to be resilient against many conditions. High wind conditions, the weight of sleet the weight of snow. It does have certain design parameters and i’m not going to get into that detail, but the preparedness associated with that is is very helpful, absent that the conditions would be much worse across our system. All right, we’ve got another one from k view. What is the average amount of time? Customers are going without power? We have heard from people who say they’ve been without power for days. So do you have data on how many customers are affected by outages lasting longer than 24 hours? We have a very, very small, subset minority of customers that are at that 24 hour time frame. I would say that, they’re to the extent those isolated conditions exist, there’s extenuating circumstances, uh for example. Example, if a pole goes down – and you have a much higher restoration and a much more construction cycle associated with mounting new poles or drilling for new poles, putting up new lines and that type of thing, so those are unique situations where we may have a 24 Hour sustained outage and for those people that are sustaining those events, our sympathies and apologies go out to you. Please understand that we are doing everything we can to get you restored. We have the numbers in our control center of who has experienced these sustained outages.

We know who you are: we are working to get you restored uh. You are not forgotten all right. Next question is see from cbs austin. How many people does austin energy currently have working uh? That is a that’s, a good question um and – and we can provide that to you later, if you don’t have that off top of your head, we can send that over to you guys, yeah jennifer. Why don’t you follow up with with the exact detail, i would say that at any given time our base crews on day shift or nominally. These are the operation, crews that are out in the field um the line workers, if you will 30 crews, normally 40 trucks and that’s that’s the base levels and we augment from there. So we have augmented upward from there. Then we have forestry people. On top of that, then we have condition assessment people. On top of that, then we have operations control center people. On top of that, then we’ve got customer service, people that are uh available and communicating with staff so there’s various iterations and uh. If, as you peel the onion back, it is an extensive and broad and broad and aggressive undertaking to respond in these situations. Okay, um, the next one is from kxan – is austin energy. Changing its response. As the weather worsens, what area will be focused on the most again a good question? Austin energy is continually and dynamically assessing our responses.

For instance, we’re looking forward at the weather forecast we’re looking at where it might hit, fortunately or unfortunately, a lot of the the sleet that happened thursday afternoon was across our northwest corridor, so where the system is hit, the hardest, uh, obviously we’re, going to deploy crews There so we’re continually evaluating what our our crew levels are, where we need to call in incremental people if we need to call them in advance uh in forward days, we’re looking closely at the snow event that is coming up where we’re already pre mobilizing in anticipation Of what we might need to support that, so, at the end of the day, we are diligent not only on the day to day, but also forward. Looking all right – and i believe this is our last question – this one is from the austin chronicle. What are the highest priority efforts? Instant energy needs to make now to protect operations that keep the city safe and how customers who do have? Who do? I think i think you met who do service help and or no sorry excuse me, how can customers who do have service help manage demand? Do you need me to read them yeah? So how can customers that do have service help manage demand? Yes, one of the things we are experiencing is when you’re, when the power is restored, oftentimes homes are cold and there’s. A big demand so we’re asking that uh to help with this in rush current or the inrush power that when you are restored, that, if you could bring your home up to to temperature slowly instead of rapidly and then conserve energy uh for the first few hours, It helps us address some of the inrush and some of the cold start if you will uh.

In addition, one of our priorities has to do with we work hard to maintain and to assure that government government offices, prisons, hospitals, power plants. Those are the first restored when they go out, so there is quite the hierarchy that we are mandated to to address, so that is one of the one of the conditions that we have jennifer. Was there more totality to that question? Let me read the first part. Just to make sure we got it all what are the highest priority effort he needs to make now to protect operations that keep the city safe. Again, i think it’s, a multi faceted approach. We have the power supply approach, keep the city safe. We need to keep our power generation available and operating. We have to maintain our transmission and our distribution system. We have to keep our crew safe. This is an occupational hazard to be out in the cold in the snow dealing with high voltage electricity. We need to keep our customers safe as well from down power lines and down poles um. We have a tremendous crew of vegetation management that is climbing and addressing some of the the downs and falling tree limbs uh on our poles. We have to coordinate effectively so that uh, we don’t energize the line, while one of our personnel may be entangled.

What do you think?

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