As of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 188,000 Austin Energy customers are without service, or about 37% of the utility’s total customers, down from more than 210,000 customers without power in the morning. Since the utility first shut off power in the early morning hours of Feb. 15, that number has fluctuated only slightly.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the statewide electric grid, has ordered all energy utilities throughout the state to reduce energy usage. This is typically done through rolling blackouts, but because supply is so low and demand is so high due to freezing temperatures, Austin Energy says it has taken all non-critical circuits offline. Those who remain with power are likely tied to critical infrastructure such as a hospital, fire station or water utility.
Statewide, more than 3 million Texans are without power as of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to PowerOutage.US, which collects and aggregates outage data from utilities across the country.
As the crisis continues, speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, requested a joint hearing Feb. 25 of the House State Affairs and Energy Resources Committees to look further into what went wrong leading up to the blackouts.
“We must cut through the finger-pointing and hear directly from stakeholders about the factors that contributed to generation staying down at a time when families needed it most, what our state can do to correct these issues, and what steps regulators and grid operators are taking to safeguard the electric grid,” Phelan wrote in a news release.
Gov. Greg Abbott also called for an investigation into ERCOT.
“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” Abbott said. “Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions."
Here are more updates regarding the ongoing outages and icy road conditions from organizations around the Austin area:
All Ascension Medical Group Seton clinics are closed Feb. 16, but telemedicine visits are available. Vaccine clinics are also closed through Wednesday, but Ascension Seton Hospitals and Dell Children’s Medical Center remain open as usual.
All flights in and out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were canceled through Feb. 16. Flights are expected to resume again at 1 p.m. Wednesday—all flights before 1 p.m. are cancelled—but the airport is continuing to urge passengers to check in with their airline before arriving at the airport as additional cancellations and delays are likely.
Austin Community College has cancelled all classes, events and work—both in-person and remote—through Sunday. Feb. 21.
Austin Emergency Management has set up four warming centers for those who need a place to get out of the cold. Individuals who report to the warming center will also receive transportation to a shelter to stay overnight if requested. The Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin, is the city's primary warming center. The other two locations have extremely limited capacity and should be only used by Austin's most vulnerable populations, the city said. They are located at Mendez Middle School, 5106 Village Square Drive, Austin; Northeast Early College High School, 7104 Berkman Drive, Austin;and Del Valle High School, 5201 Ross Road, Austin.
Austin ISD classes are canceled through Feb. 18 and are on schedule to resume virtually Feb. 19. The district has also set up warming centers open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Lee Elementary School, 3308 Hampton Road, Austin and Murchison Middle School, 3700 North Hills Drive, Austin.
Capital Metro suspended all service Feb. 16 to focus efforts on emergency operations to support individuals at cold weather shelters and those needing life-saving trips. That suspension will remain at least through Feb. 17. Capital Metro COO Dottie Watkins said conditions are too unsafe to resume service, especially with sleet and freezing rain in the forecast.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has closed all the toll roads it operates until further notice. The Mobility Authority operates the following toll roads: 183A Toll from south of San Gabriel Parkway to RM 620; US 290 East from US 183 to east of Parmer Lane, including the direct connectors; 183 South from US 290 to Hwy. 71, including the direct connectors; Hwy. 71 East from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to SH 130; SH 45 SW Toll from FM 1626 to MoPac; and MoPac Express toll lanes from Lady Bird Lake to Parmer Lane. Additionally, the Mobility Authority said its call center operations may be limited Feb. 16.
H-E-B reopened some stores in Central Texas at noon Feb. 16, and customers reported long lines throughout the area as Austin residents sought to stock up on supplies. At the grocer's Mueller location, the line to enter wrapped around the back of the store, and in the early afternoon, customers reported waiting as long as two hours to get in. H-E-B's operating hours vary from city to city. As of 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, it has not announced when stores will open Feb. 17. A number of stores were