News Brief
5:30 am
Thu February 3, 2011

School Delays February 3, 2011

Photo by KUT News.

*updated 7:25 a.m. for weather conditions*

The Austin Independent School District will hold classes as usual at their regular start times .  UT Austin and St. Edwards University will be operating as normal.  All Austin Community College campuses will also be open today and on a regular schedule.  That includes the Rio Grande Campus. ..  .  .  .  .

A wind chill advisory is in effect until 11 a.m.  And a winter weather advisory is in effect from tonight at 6 until Friday at noon.  The cold weather has prompted some Central Texas schools to delay classes Thursday.

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COLD WEATHER
5:45 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Texas Grid Still 5,000 Megawatts Short, More Rolling Outages Possible Tonight And Tomorrow

The cold weather that has people bundling up on the University of Texas campus could prompt more rolling power outages tonight and tomorrow.
Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

The periodic power outages mandated by the state's power grid operator could continue this evening and tomorrow.

"The grid continues to have more than 5,000 megawatts of generation out of service due to the effect of the extreme cold," the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said in a statement.

Fifty power generation units across the state stopped working overnight, ERCOT said, leading to an initial 7,000 megawatt loss of generation capacity. ERCOT said it was prohibited by market regulations from revealing which power plants they were.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell stressed at a late afternoon news conference today that Austin Energy was not among them.

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cold weather
3:49 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Steps You Can Take To Reduce The Likelihood Of Rolling Outages

Image by KUT News

The rotating power outages that afflicted Austin today are over for now, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), but the energy regulator says there is a strong likelihood they could resume tomorrow.

"Without this safety valve," ERCOT said in a statement, "generators would overload and begin shutting down to avoid damage, risking a domino effect of a state-wide outage."

Here are measures ERCOT says you can you can take to lower your power consumption and help reduce the need for rolling outages.

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cold weather
3:32 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

How Are You Dealing With The Cold?


KUT News sent out interns Mario Carrillo and Liang Shi to ask people how they're dealing with the frigid winter weather. Let us know how you're coping in the comments section!

cold weather
2:25 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Cold Weather Could Slow Afternoon Traffic

Image Courtesy of Solar Images. http://www.flickr.com/photos/solarimages/

Cold weather and power outages could snarl rush hour traffic this afternoon.  Some intersections, like the one at 6th and Lamar, were backed up for blocks because traffic lights went out.  City official recommend driving with caution.

"They're going to come across some signals that are dark," City of Austin Public Works spokesperson Sarah Hartley told KUT News. "Maneuver them the same way they would a four way stop sign. It's going to be just like your good old traffic education that you learned when you got your license. If it's a four-way stop, the people on your right are the first to go and just alternating turns."

As the power gets restored in each intersection, the stoplight initially flashes red before returning to its normal light cycle.

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cold weather
1:46 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Austin Energy Says Rolling Outages Are Over...For Now

Ice on the ground on Whitis St. in Austin
Image by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Updated at 5:27 pm: Rolling outages implemented by the state's energy regulator are over, but the state's energy regulator is warning people that emergency outages could return.  About 7,000 megawatts of generating capacity went offline last night due to cold weather. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) asked local utilities to draw down their consumption to help distribute the load, leading to rolling power outages across the state.

"ERCOT has issued a notice that rotating outages are no longer needed at this time; however, there is a strong possibility that they will be required again this evening or tomorrow, depending on how quickly the disabled generation units can be returned to service," ERCOT's Dottie Roark said in an email. "Energy conservation is still critical during peak demand hours this evening between 6 and 10 pm. "

Now that rolling outages are over, Austin Energy crews are able to address lingering isolated outages. If your power is still out, call 322-9100.  Here's an Austin Energy map showing power outages across town.

Politics
1:16 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Statement From Governor Perry On Rolling Power Outages

The Governor speaking at an event last year.
Image by KUT

Gov. Rick Perry's office sent us this statement:

"Because of winter weather conditions that have created an unprecedented demand on the state's energy grid, many Texans across our state are experiencing power outages today," Gov. Perry said. "Texas power and emergency management experts are working very closely with ERCOT and various utility providers to ensure power is restored as quickly as possible. Until that happens, I urge businesses and residents to conserve electricity to minimize the impact of this event."

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Power outages
12:52 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Cold Weather Causes Rolling Power Outages Across Texas

People shiver in the cold while waiting for the bus on Guadalupe St.
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Cold weather caused about 50 generators to die across Texas overnight, reducing capacity by 7,000 megawatts and prompting the state agency responsible for managing power to request local utilities institute rolling power outages.

Capacity is slowly coming back online. KUT News is following the latest developments on this story.

Do you have any pictures that show the cold weather or how the power outages have affected you? Please email them to news@kut.org, or tell us your story in the comments below.

cold weather
12:44 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Some Flight Disruptions at ABIA

Photo by KUT.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is seeing some flight delays and cancelations in the midst of the arctic weather impacting much of the U.S.  Several flights have been delayed up to several hours, and at least a few departing flights have been canceled. 

Remember to call your airline or check your flights online before you head to the airport.

cold weather
12:44 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

As Cold Grips Austin, Meals on Wheels Reaches Out to Clients

Ora Lee Clark of Austin admires the gifts she received through Meals on Wheels and More's "Be a Santa to a Senior" program in December.
Matt Largey for KUT News

With Austin in the midst of an uncommon cold spell, and rolling blackouts striking parts of Central Texas, Meals on Wheels and More is calling clients to ensure that they won't be trapped in the cold.

"We'll just call [clients] and ask them how they're doing, how their homes are being affect by the temperatures, if they're feeling OK, if they need anything," Sarah Andrews with Meals on Wheels and More told KUT.

Andrews said that a lot of people receiving food are "elderly" or have "critical health needs."

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cold weather
12:37 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Texas Power Outages Caused By 7,000 Megawatts Going Offline

Cold weather caused ice to form on this water fountain at the University of Texas at Austin. The frigid temperatures are being blamed for rolling power outages that afflicated Texas throughout the day.
Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

More than fifty electricity generation units stopped working overnight because of severe weather, reducing capacity by 7,000 megawatts and leading to the rolling power outages across Texas today.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has asked utilities and transmission providers like Austin Energy to implement the rolling power outage underway now.

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cold weather
12:17 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Round Rock ISD Closes One School Due To Power Outage

Several Austin-area schools are closed due to power interruptions.
Photo by Conspirator http://www.flickr.com/photos/conspirator/

Students at Westwood High School in Round Rock have been let out early today, due to the frequency of power outages. 

In a statement, the district said most schools are experiencing some kind of outages, but they were particularly bad at Westwood.

The pattern has been consistent through the morning and in the best interest of the students, the district chose to do an release early. Regular bus services will be made available to students, however; if students wish to remain on campus they may do so since all staff will remain until the end of the day.

cold weather
12:01 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Hospitals, Clinics Keep Appointments Despite Power Outages

The emergency department at Brackenridge Hospital is up and running.
Nathan Bernier, KUT

Power generators kicked on as they were supposed to at Seton Medical Center Williamson and the Seton Edgar B. Davis Hospital, according to spokesperson Matilda Sanchez. Both hospitals are fully functioning.

Austin Regional Clinic, which operates eighteen clinics across Central Texas, has been affected by the rolling outages but is asking patients to keep their appointments. 

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cold weather
11:26 am
Wed February 2, 2011

Here Is Where You Can Find Information on Power Outages In Austin

Image courtesy Austin Energy

We linked to it in an earlier post, but we want to make it as clear as possible about where to find this information. Austin Energy provides data on power outages through its Customer Outage Portal.

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cold weather
11:13 am
Wed February 2, 2011

20 Of 124 Austin ISD Campuses Without Power At Any Given Time

Linder Elementary in warmer times.
Image by KUT News

Rolling blackouts are affecting schools in the Austin Independent School District, which opted not to cancel classes today. The district currently has no plans to release students early this afternoon.

"Austin ISD, like the rest of the city, is affected by the rolling outages," AISD spokesperson Carmen Luevanos told KUT News. "At any one point, we have approximately 20 campuses that are out [of power]. We have approximately 120 campuses [total]."

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