AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Mayor Steve Adler is encouraging residents to think about their neighbors as the winter weather continues in the area. In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Adler urged those who can to stay home, off the roads and to only call 911 in the event of a life-threatening emergency.
Adler asked those who can shelter in place to do so. He also asked that those who have power and water check on neighbors and friends and, if providing shelter to others, to still practice COVID-19 safety protocols.
Adler also urged everyone – including businesses – to reduce energy consumption as much as possible.
"Here's the key phrase for me this afternoon: If you have power, please try to live almost like you don't," Adler said. "If you have heat, run it low, run it lower. If you have lights, try just to use the light you need at that moment. If you have power, maybe you'll take a turn using flashlights or a candle."
Adler said the more Austinites can conserve, the greater the chance that Austin Energy might be able to satisfy whatever load reduction the State is requiring with conservation rather than with outages. He said there are no promises because there is no control over what the State or the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) will require, but conserving energy may give Austin Energy flexibility.
Adler also thanked those who are helping others through donations and volunteering, pointing to the Austin Area Urban League's #LoveThyNeighborTX campaign. He also said Austin Public Health is designing a website for volunteers to be able to sign up to staff shelters and that the City is looking for volunteers with 4-wheel drive vehicles to help transport people.
Adler said, ultimately, as millions of Texans continue to deal with the issues the power outages are causing, ERCOT will have to be held accountable.
"The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, ultimately has to explain why millions of Texans are out of power. Rolling outages are just not that. There's got to be systemic changes. This condition is happening every 10 years and we've got to come up with a better plan," Adler said.
Finally, Adler said that rumors of the power outages possibly causing a boil water notice are unfounded. Austin Energy elaborated, saying that the water treatment facilities and water plants are part of the critical loads that are on the circuits that it keeps energized because "we know that water is critical and we know our residents need to have access to that."
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