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Texas governor orders natural gas producers not to export supply, blames city-owned utilities for power outages
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced new orders requiring state-regulated power utilities to implement rolling outages and natural gas providers not to export their product out-of-state in an effort to assuage a days-long power-and-water crisis during a press conference on Wednesday, the first one he has held since the outages began early Monday morning.
Austin Energy officials have repeatedly stressed that they are not yet able to implement rotating outages. "Currently, we are not stable enough to have rotating outages," General Manager Jackie Sargent said during a Wednesday press conference, adding that the utility cannot restore power to circuits without compromising those serving critical loads, such as hospitals and fire stations.
Abbott also asked state agencies to issue provisional licenses to out-of-state plumbers and insurance adjusters.
Millions of Texans are without power and an increasing number are also without water, as freezing temperatures have caused water pipes and mains to burst. Abbott and other state officials have not said when residents can expect their power and water supply to resume but expressed hope that warming temperatures will lessen the crisis.
Abbott blamed city-owned and coop-owned utilities for the power outages. "It would not be any state-based entity that makes those decisions," he said, making no mention of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the state's power grid.
Austin Energy officials have stressed that they have been ordered by ERCOT to cut power to a certain number of customers to avoid a total grid shutdown, which could take months to restore. Abbott criticized the entity on Tuesday, when he announced ERCOT reform would be an emergency item this legislative session and later said that he thinks its leadership should resign.
Abbott faced criticism after he attributed the state's days-long power crisis to wind turbine failures and took a shot at renewable energy policies. "This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America," the Republican governor told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday.
180,000+ @austinenergy customers have no power. Some ⚡️ restored but *not* enough. If water main broken call 5129721000, 911 if medical emergency
Don't call @GovAbbott for help though, he's busy making an ass of himself on @FoxNews while people freeze.
Will be posting updates.
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) February 17, 2021
Although all of the state's energy sources have been impacted, ERCOT officials said the primary cause of the power outages have been weather-related failures of the state's natural gas providers. "Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now," University of Texas at Austin energy resources professor Michael Webber told the Texas Tribune.
Another round of precipitation is forecasted across Texas Wednesday night, which will likely exacerbate icy roads and other transportation challenges.
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Police have arrested one of two suspects involved in a mass shooting at Austin's Sixth Street in the early morning hours on Saturday, leaving 14 people injured and two in critical condition.
The arrest was made by the Austin Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. One suspect is still at large.
Police started receiving 911 phone calls at 1:24 a.m about a man that fired shots into a large crowd, and responded to a chaotic scene on the 400 block of East Sixth Street. Detectives are surveying video footage captured by bystanders and cameras on the scene to identify the suspect.
The Austin Police Department has narrowed down their search to two male suspects and believes there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.
No deaths have been reported. Fourteen victims are receiving treatment in a hospital in stable condition with one treated in an emergency room; two are in critical condition.
According to Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon, "almost all" of the victims are innocent bystanders but police have not ruled anyone out at this time.
Shooting on 6th Street Austin Texas 6-12-2021 (Aftermath) youtu.be
The shooting occurred on the weekend of the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally. With lots of people downtown, police say it was difficult to get EMS in and out of the scene. Police arrived while the scene was still an "active threat," officers "immediately began lifesaving measures" and drove six victims to the hospital in their squad cars, said Chacon, and four were transported in ambulances.
Chacon said that the incident is believed to be isolated, and they optimistic they will be successful in getting the two suspects into custody. Multiple departments, including APD, the FBI, Texas DPS and the ATF, are involved in the investigation.
Austin police are also requesting state troopers for patrol assistance in the coming days. Chacon stressed staffing issues are increasingly making responding to emergency calls "very hard."
"Overall, we remain a safe city," Chacon said. "Also keep in mind when you come downtown, you need to be safety conscious. Be vigilant of your environment and your surroundings."
Today marks the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in Orlando, Florida. Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call 911 or 512-472-TIPS.
This story was updated at 2:47 p.m. to include new information and will be updated as more details are revealed.
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Austin police are investigating a homicide in North Austin where a woman was shot and killed, just hours after a mass shooting in Downtown Austin hospitalized 14 people.
APD is working a suspicious death near the 1900 block of W Rundberg Ln. PIO is en route and will update with media staging location. PIO6
— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) June 12, 2021
Police originally responded to Ironhorse Flats Apartments, 1900 block of W. Rundberg Lane, at 3:20 p.m. when they found the woman with multiple gunshot wounds. She was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:07 p.m.
No one is in custody as of yet but police are speaking with potential witnesses. Officials said they believe this was an isolated incident with no danger to the public but said possible relation to the downtown shooting has not been specifically ruled out.
Officers could not provide a suspect description and the relationship to the victim is still unknown.
This is a developing story that will be updated as details become available.
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