Power Outages

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT.

People are being urged to continue conserving energy, as temperatures remain below freezing.  ERCOT, the state's grid operator, says the state's electric emergency situation has ended.  Energy generation reserves are in better shape today than they were yesterday.  Still, folks have a lot of questions about Wednesday's rolling power outages.  Specifically, some KUT listeners thought Austin Energy did a bad job of communicating what was going on Wednesday. 

Nasha Lee, KUT News

The rolling power outages are over, but the state's energy regulator would still like for you to conserve electricity.  The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says it is ending the emergency procedures it put in place early yesterday mornin

Photo courtesy of Miranda Martin/via Flickr

**Update @ 7: 20 a.m.: ERCOT says the state's grid condition is improving but it's still urging people to conserve energy, especially before 9 a.m.  From the press release: "Although immediate concerns for the possibility of rotating outages this morning are reduced, ERCOT will be monitoring the grid closely because additional unexpected major losses of generation could force operators to begin emergency procedures to avoid an uncontrolled statewide blackout."


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.

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!

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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]."