Officials at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which maintains about 90% of the state's power grid, said that they are no longer mandating controlled power outages and are instructing utility companies to restore power. This process will take time. Some energy customers may still be without power as those companies work to bring circuits back online or because of damage caused by ice, fallen trees and downed power lines.
The reason ERCOT is now able to allow utility companies to restore power is because a number of generators have been restored since going offline earlier in the week. Additionally, with so many large customers, such as factories, shut down to the emergency, demand for power was lower than anticipated, which also helped speed up the restoration process, Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said during a press conference Thursday morning.
However, ERCOT officials did warn the public that additional power outages could be forthcoming if demand for electricity outpaces the available supply. This scenario is what triggered the controlled outages—which were intended to be rolling but, in the Austin area, have lasted for days—in the first place.
Had ERCOT not directed utilities to cut power to customers, there was a possibility that the entire grid would have collapsed, leaving the state without power for weeks—or even longer. "It was seconds and minutes," CEO Bill Magness said of the prospect of a total grid blackout early Monday morning, when hundreds of thousands of Austin energy customers—and millions of other Texans across the state—lost power.
Now that ERCOT is no longer mandating outages, Austin Energy is in the process of restoring power to its customers, prioritizing those who have gone without the longest, Chief of Staff Stuart Reilly said during a Facebook live hosted by Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison. As of 11:16 p.m., 56,788 Austin Energy customers—or about 11%—were still without power. This is a significant improvement from Wednesday evening, when about 27% of customers were still impacted.
(Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison/Facebook)
The restoration process takes time, however. Austin Energy is restoring power in sections to avoid overloading the system. As power is restored, utility companies run the risk of cold load pickup, which occurs when a circuit is restored only to be quickly overloaded by lights, appliances and thermostats left on prior to the outage. To avoid this, Reilly asked customers still without power to turn off everything except one light. Those who have power at this point should continue conservation measures.
The power crisis resulted in a water crisis in Austin and many other regions across the state. Austin Water issued a boil water notice Wednesday evening due to a power outage at its largest water treatment plant and dropping pressure across the system caused by a surge in demand precipitated by dripping faucets and burst pipes. Although power has since been restored at the treatment plant, the utility is still facing a water shortage and the boil water notice remains in effect.
"We do not yet have a timeline for when water may be restored," Chief of Support Services Anna Bryan-Borja said during the Facebook live.
Although Austin Water previously recommended customers drip their faucets in an effort to avoid frozen or burst pipes, the water shortage issue has prompted them to change their advice. Now, the utility is recommending that customers take conservation measures or turn off their water to prevent pipe problems.
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Expect some whiplash this week, Austinites: with an expected high of 103 degrees, Monday is predicted to be the hottest day of the year, but a midweek cold front is on the way to bring that first glimpse of fall.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport could see its first 100-degree temperature this year on Monday as temperatures citywide are expected to exceed this year's record of 102 degrees.
The cold front arrives Tuesday afternoon to evening.#atx #atxwx #cbsaustinwx https://t.co/rQni6ug3y4 pic.twitter.com/PoFeHPYtnM
— Chikage Windler WX (@ChikageWeather) September 20, 2021
After a typical summery Tuesday with highs in the mid-90s, Wednesday will welcome the first signs of fall as a cold front drops lows into the 50s.
Expect more wind and a chance of rain come Tuesday with a 40% chance of scattered storms. The cold front, which should last through Friday, will bring a drier, crisper air that could cause fire hazards on Wednesday.
Highs will be in the upper 80s and lows in the 50s and lower 60s for the front's final two mornings.
After near record heat today, a cold front arrives tomorrow! Hang in there South-Central Texas, we have almost made it. pic.twitter.com/yd9UbNo7hY
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) September 20, 2021
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After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.