Austin Energy tells customers to prepare for outages to last longer

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 192,000 Austin Energy customers remained without power. That's just the customers, but the number of people affected, is even higher.

Austin Energy says that customers should prepare to be without power through Wednesday and possibly longer.

"I’m signing an order this afternoon that prevent anyone from selling certain goods or services like hotel rooms. This order also says local businesses like office towers or sports facilities need to turn off their exterior lights," said Andy Brown, Travis County Judge.

Austinites have been braving the cold temps inside their Cornell Woolridge who lives in Northwest Austin.

"We've been without power 34 hours. We lost power 4:30 yesterday morning," said Woolridge.

Woolridge was able to utilize unconventional means to try and stay warm.

"We are really fortunate to have a gas range and gas fireplace so we've been using the fireplace to maintain certain temperature in the house. Once we get to that we turn it off, once it gets below, we turn it back on," said Woolridge.

But that was not the case for others.

"We spent the morning freezing inside our home. We were sure that the power is going to come back on within the next couple of hours they are talking about rolling blackouts so we should see some power within 15-40 minutes…that didn't happen of course," said Meme Styles, Pflugerville resident.

With a newborn baby, her family checked into a hotel, where the power also went out there. She is grateful for a helping hand, her friend Livia Pope opened her home up to her family.

"This is the mark of true neighborly love," said Styles.

Rolling blackouts are one thing but to leave families 36-48 hours without heat or gas and the ability to get food is a huge problem," said Livia Pope, Styles’ friend.

"It's just a situation i think was avoidable, not even over the last week but I think years ahead in the maintenance and regulation of our power grid," said Woolridge.


Bluebonnet says Monday night they were mandated by ERCOT— which manages the state’s power grid—to shut off power to even more people than before. 

For those who have lost power due to actual damage from the storm, it has proven to be an equally slow restoration process. Late Monday night, Pedernales reported that the extreme weather conditions and poor road conditions are slowing crews’ response times.

"We know that not having power is extremely frustrating, unnerving and uncomfortable. We want our customers to know we are doing everything we can," said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy General Manager.


More than 2,000,000 people in Texas were without power Monday, after a crippling winter storm blew through the state. Nearly 40% of Austin was without power on Monday afternoon.

ERCOT, the grid operator for the entire state called for rotating outages last night to reduce demand on the system. This, as the winter weather forced generating units offline as well. Rotating outages are happening in residential areas and small businesses in the city.

"We have scheduled circuits that do not contain critical load. Critical load consists of things like hospitals, control centers, fire stations…we need to maintain electricity to those places," said Sargent.

Texas doesn’t typically see this type of demand in the winter, unlike summer. Leslie Sopko, a spokesperson with ERCOT said the state reached peak demand, during a time when plants do not have the natural gas to run their plants, unlike summertime. Austin Energy said power will be out until conditions let up. There also were not enough generation units to run the system. Many customers have been without power since 2:00 am...including the Travis County Judge.


The storm created the need for warming shelters.

"We have opened up a warming center which is at the Palmer Events Center," said Juan Ortiz, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

"The most important thing you can do to help our fellow Austinites is to stay off the road and conserve energy," said Spencer Cronk, Austin City Manager.

If you do have power, Austin Energy said do everything you can to conserve energy...the faster we do that, the faster the city can get through this unprecedented weather event.