The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Austin energy are asking residents to conserve energy while they are staying home due to the cold weather, as electricity across the state is in high demand—possibly higher than reserves have.
In a press conference on Sunday, Austin Energy Chief Operating Officer Sidney Jackson said they have been able to dramatically reduce the number of homes without power from Saturday. As of noon Sunday, 131 homes were without power and as of 6 p.m., around 240 homes are without power. These numbers are down dramatically from more than 10,000 homes without power on Thursday.
With stormy weather approaching and most people taking shelter from the cold, officials are asking residents to voluntarily conserve energy by keeping thermostats below 68 degrees, unplugging nonessential items, avoiding use of large appliances, shutting blinds and turning off unneeded lights.
We know it's cold. But if you turn down your heat to 68 degrees and put on a fleece, you can help keep the power flowing for everyone. #showusyourfleece #conserve pic.twitter.com/PI7Lml1MLE
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) February 14, 2021
As rumors of rolling outages—controlled temporary outages lasting 10-45 minutes to conserve energy circulating in West Texas—Austin Energy said they are prepared to conduct the outages if given orders from ERCOT.
Snow is coming down on some parts of Austin, and Austin Energy has dispatched crews to check on "known vulnerable areas" and is partnering with nearby hotels to get employees off the icy roads to sleep.
Austin will be under a winter storm warning until Monday at noon at the least.
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As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.
Christa McWhirter<p>Crystal Maher, a member of the Restaurant Organizing Project, stands in front of the Texas Capitol to express to other protesters in attendance how not being eligible for a vaccine has impacted her ability to safely keep her job. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Kiara Collins, Eric Santos and Taylor Escamilla are all essential workers who have been questioning their safety in their workplace. As many of the other protesters, the three wore masks with the word "Expendable" on it. According to Collins, they were only given to essential workers in attendance to represent how they have been treated since the onset of COVID-19.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>As Maher continues to introduce speakers, two essential workers who came out to support the protest, record as counter-protesters heckled the event's speakers.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Some of the counter-protesters in attendance were live streamers from InfoWars, an extremist organization, who heckled speakers until the rally dispersed. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>A representative of the Del Valle Community Coalition spoke about the impact the lack of vaccine access has had on the Del Valle area. As she attempted to give her speech, anti-masking protesters yelled at her causing many people to attempt to block them out.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Protesters blocked the way of anti-mask counter protesters as they heckled the event's speakers and held "My Body My Choice" signs. "It's kind of insane how they're using 'my body, my choice.' It doesn't only affect you. So it's not just your body," Taylor Escamilla said.</p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Jeanette Gregor, cofounder of Amplified Sound Coalition, also had to fend off counter-protesters as she gave an impassioned speech about the danger essential workers place themselves in by going to work and have yet to qualify for COVID-19 vaccine. </p>
Christa McWhirter<p>Around 2 p.m., State Troopers began to arrive at the Capitol amid heightening tensions from protesters and counter-protesters. As police presence began to increase, the event came to end about 15 minutes later. Despite the constant back and forth between sides and the arrival of law enforcement, the protest came to end peacefully.</p>
The world has changed drastically over the past year, and South by Southwest, one of Austin's most beloved institutions, has, too.
After being abruptly canceled by the city last year, one week before it was set to kick-off due to the increasing understanding of the potential impact of COVID-19, it returns this year in a virtual format March 16-20.
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Austin Public Health will release first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments on a weekly basis starting Monday evening. The specific days and number of appointments made available will depend on the weekly allocation from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Previously, APH released first dose appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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