Texas ice storm: About 5,100 Austin Energy customers still without power

A week after the ice storm first hit, Austin Energy officials gathered at city hall for a briefing to discuss the thousands of customers that remain without power.

"For our customers still without power, I'm sorry for how long this is taking," said Jackie Sargent, General Manager for Austin Energy.

For Austin Energy leaders and City Manager Spencer Cronk, Tuesday's briefing was an additional chance to update those on day seven without power, as well as offer up an apology.

"I offer my heartfelt apologies for any shortcomings in our response," said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk.

For Austin city council members, it was a chance to get some sort of accountability.

"We fell short, and it's not the first time," said Leslie Pool, District 7.

Austin Energy officials continuously referred to this recent weather event as an "ice hurricane"

"What we experienced was the equivalent of a hurricane and so even though that might not have been quite our lived experience, it's what happened to the trees and, therefore, impacted our system," said Stuart Reilly, Interim Chief Operating Officer at Austin Energy.

So far, Austin Energy has restored power to over 348,000 customers as a result of that ice hurricane. Currently, under 2% of the city is still without power and there are 1,000 crew members working on those remaining outages.


"We are working diligently, around the clock to restore service, and we will not stop until every customer's lights are turned on," said Jackie Sargent, General Manager for Austin Energy.

Council discussed the failures to come to light after this storm including lack of communication. Council member Vanessa Fuentes revealed it took Austin Energy two days to relay any sort of information directly to those affected customers. 

Right now, Austin Energy officials are sticking with the timeline of February 12th for nearly all power restoration

"The reason that the outages are so lengthy is a combination of how complex and labor-intensive each job is. Once we get through all those critical loads, then we start working it from the largest outage to the smallest outage and all other factors being equal, oldest to newest, so that's kind of how things get triaged and prioritized," said Reilly.

Austin Energy plans to do a full review.

"We failed in our emergency management preparation. We failed to execute in the crisis. We failed with respect to communications. We failed with respect to customer relations," said Alison Alter, District 10.

Council will continue this discussion at their regularly scheduled council meeting on Thursday.