Austinites face another day without power due to 'grid stability' issues, some also report water and internet outages
More than 24 hours into a widespread power outage, more than 40% of Austin Energy customers are still impacted. "Due to grid stability concerns, ERCOT is still not allowing us to restore power," the utility tweeted in a 7 a.m. update.
ERCOT, or the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the state's electric load, officials said they are "optimistic" that the will be able to reduce the number of power outages throughout the day. Although ERCOT reported that it had restored power to 500,000 Texas households Monday evening, more Austin Energy customers are facing outages Tuesday morning than the day prior.
"The number of controlled outages we have to do remains high. We are optimistic that we will be able to reduce the number throughout the day." -Dan Woodfin, Senior Director of System Operations
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) February 16, 2021
Other electricity companies are also facing outages, according to their outage maps. More than 35,000—or nearly two-thirds—of Oncor customers in Travis County are currently impacted. Pedernales Electric Cooperative, which serves customers in Georgetown, Marble Falls and San Marcos, among other cities outside of Austin, reported that 46.8% of its customers were without power Tuesday morning. Another 4,400 Bluebonnet Electric customers in Travis County are also experiencing outages.
Austin residents may also face water outages due to broken water mains and internet outages related to the weather.
By Monday evening, four water main breaks had been reported to Austin Water, and the utility said that about 20 customers were out of water due to ongoing repairs in an update. "Austin Water has several hundred field personnel responding to water related concerns and will rotate shifts as necessary to restore service or assist customers to restore private service," according to the utility.
Major internet and cellular providers are also experiencing service interruptions, according to Downdetector, which tracks self-reported outages and social media posts.
Spectrum and T-Mobile customers seemed to face the most challenges, according to Downdetector's data, which shows hundreds of locally reported issues with those carriers. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint users also saw spikes through Monday.
Spectrum attributed Texas service interruptions to the weather, which is "causing commercial power outages and downed lines," in a tweet on Monday.
Spectrum customers in Texas are experiencing service interruptions related to winter weather causing commercial power outages and downed lines. As conditions allow we will be working to restore services. We apologize and thank you for your patience.
— Ask Spectrum (@Ask_Spectrum) February 15, 2021
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When Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would rescind business capacity limits and a statewide masking mandate on Texas Independence Day, he framed it as a step forward. "With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny," he said during a press conference at a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock.
But some local restaurants and bars, which have been caught in the regulatory crosshairs since Texas' first positive COVID test 364 days ago, have chosen to ignore Abbott's overture. Instead, they will continue to maintain pandemic precautions once the executive order takes effect next week, citing a desire to keep their staff and patrons safe.
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(AUSTIN, TEXAS) Austonia has hired Claire Partain as a reporter covering Austin FC, the MLS expansion team that will be Austin's first major league sports franchise.
Partain is a former sports editor for the The University Star, Texas State University's daily newspaper. She edited, covered sports, produced podcasts, and hosted a pre-game TXST football tailgate live series. Partain has been freelancing with the company since January, prior to accepting a staff position.
A native of Fairfield, Texas, Partain grew up playing youth soccer. In her high school years, she played alongside her mother in what was then called the Freestone County Hispanic Women's Soccer League.
Claire's coverage philosophy: "I like to bring out the humanity of sports, and I want to make this the most accessible sports coverage possible."
She notes that soccer is the predominant sport for young people. "It's a global sport, and we're more connected to the world than older generations."
That approach fits the team's already visible presence in Austin, says Austonia CEO Mark Dewey. "Austin FC has established itself as a leading Austin brand, one that stands for a more unified Austin community, a bigger global presence for Austin and fun. Austonia shares those values."
Partain's soccer coverage begins immediately, with her free, hosted text service—Austonia FC. For updates, special access and inside info, all moderated by Claire, sign up below.
Austonia is the city's independent, free, locally-owned and all-digital source for Austin news, information and entertainment.
Connect with Austonia through its daily email newsletter and text updates, @austonianews Instagram feed, @austonianews and @austinist Twitter feeds, @austonianews Facebook page and its website austonia.com.
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Austin Public Health will release another batch of first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Thursday on Wednesday evening. A department spokesperson estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 slots will be available.
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