Council wants power lines buried to help reduce outages during natural disasters

It has been two months since more than a quarter of a million Austin residents were left without power during February's ice storm. The culprit was ice that caused tree limbs to snap off and fall on power lines across Austin.

At Thursday’s Austin City Council meeting, the mayor and council approved two items to hopefully prevent another major outage. The two agenda items passed were Item 58 put forward by Council member Vanessa Fuentes and Item 84 by Council member Ryan Alter.

"I hope it brings a more resilient Austin," said Fuentes. 

Item 58 directs the Interim City Manager to work on a pilot program where the city will start burying power lines during ongoing and future city funded construction projects. Item 84 will initiate a study and long-term plan to bury power lines across the city.

READ MORE: 93-year-old Austin woman unable to use oxygen machine due to power outage

"We want to ensure that we're doing all that we can to prepare our community for the next big weather event. By having our power lines underground, we are hardening our infrastructure. We are creating a more resilient city and we are preparing our community," said Fuentes.

Council member Fuentes says she hopes this demonstrates the willingness the city must be more prepared for future severe weather threats.

"One thing I do want to note is what is the cost if we don't take action? What we know is that we are in a climate crisis, that we can expect more severe weather events to impact our city, so we want to be prepared. I really think that this is in the best interests of our city, in the best interests of our community, and it's certainly needed," she said.