Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent asked Austin residents with power to conserve electricity in an effort to bring the energy grid back online more quickly.
“Based on what they are looking at, this situation is likely to continue through the night and possibly into the afternoon [of Feb. 16], but it depends on what we do as consumers in managing our load and our consumption of electricity,” she said at a press conference. “The more that we can do to conserve, the more we can help our neighbors.”
According to Sargent, in taking direction from its wholesale energy provider Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Austin Energy shut off power to some of its customers. Additionally, it is working to maintain power to circuits that include hospitals, water utilities and emergency services. This has maxed out its allowable energy use, which has prevented Austin Energy from restoring power to customers currently without electricity.
“There is no more energy we can shut off at this time [that would allow us to] bring these customers back on,” Sargent said. “That's why it's so important that we do come together as a community and help each other during this very unprecedented time.”
Sargent said it is too early to predict when power could be restored. As a statewide provider of energy, ERCOT will tell the city when it can restore power to customers, she said.
As temperatures in the Austin area are expected to be near or below freezing over the next three days, and with more winter precipitation in the forecast later this week, Sargent said meeting energy demands could be a challenge even when power is restored to customers.
Travis County Judge Andy Brown said he is one of the thousands of Austin residents who has not had power in his home since 2 a.m. Feb. 15. He advised residents to be careful, to stay home if possible and to try to conserve energy to help others in the area.
“I think that there's a lot of us in the same boat here in Austin and Travis County,” Brown said. “I do know that the electric companies and the providers of energy and the county in the city are doing everything they can to get it back online so that we have power in our house.”
For those still without power or in need of assistance, read here for a list of current emergency services still operating and warming centers that are open in the city of Austin.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that more than 210,000 Austin Energy customers were without power the night of Feb. 15.