Austin Energy explains cause of hours-long outage in South Austin

Thousands of Austin Energy customers were left without power for hours on Saturday. 

Neighbors who live in the Bradshaw Crossing subdivision said the outage lasted about four hours.

"This was considered a shed load event," said Matt Mitchell, spokesperson for Austin Energy.

Austin Energy said this was all on them, not the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.

"We apologize for that outage. It was a decision that was made because of an emergency situation," said Mitchell.

That emergency situation was customers cranking the air conditioner, something that is very normal when temps approach triple digits. Mitchell said the problem was with one of the two sub stations in south Austin.

"We had two circuits and a transformer that were offline for maintenance at that sub station, and we had a specific circuit that was becoming overloaded. We had to make the emergency decision to power down that circuit and cut power to about 3,600 people for several hours," he said.

If that circuit had not been powered down, things could have gotten worse, and thousands more could have gone without power. We asked if it was possible to pull from any other stations like the Sand Hill Energy Center.

"The other sub stations were taxed as well. It's not something as simple as pulling from somewhere else," said Mitchell.

Ultimately, customers are angry, but Austin Energy restored power within four hours, and they said they are doing what they can to restore trust, which includes stellar communication about events like these.

The utility will be opening another sub station in southeast Austin, next month.