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City of Austin to reduce commercial energy consumption, prohibit price-gouging till Feb. 22

The City signed the order after social media erupted in outrage over the unequal power distribution.

AUSTIN, Texas — After City of Austin and Travis County officials signed an order Tuesday evening to reduce commercial energy consumption and prevent price gouging, the city and county ordered manufacturing, industrial, or commercial business to minimize or halt non-essential processes and operations to the greatest extent possible.  

These City of Austin orders and Travis County orders are in effect through Feb. 22. 

As the extreme weather continues to impact individuals across the state, pleas were made to conserve power to help reduce energy usage to residents and commercial businesses that still had power. These measures are necessary to help restore power to our community and those homes without heat.  

RELATED: Travis County judge signing order to turn off outside lighting, prohibit price gouging

According to a statement, in order to further minimize energy demand, the City has coordinated with Downtown Austin Alliance to request urgent assistance with reducing non-essential power usage in the downtown Austin area. 

“We have put out an urgent plea to businesses to reduce their power consumption as well,” said  Austin Mayor Steve Adler in Tuesday's press conference. 

“Any measure that can be taken by homes with power or commercial businesses to reduce power usage is a step closer to returning power to homes in our community.”  

Austin Energy told KVUE Wednesday afternoon that the City is coordinating with Downtown Austin Alliance and Austin Chamber of Commerce for urgent assistance to help reduce non-essential power usage in the downtown Austin area. 

"More than 50 downtown properties have been notified to reduce energy usage, and outreach continues. Businesses and residents in areas with electricity should conserve power to help restore power to our community and those homes without heat," their representative told KVUE.

Measures have also been taken by the City and County to combat price gouging by businesses. Under the order, businesses are prohibited from selling certain goods and services at any price higher than what they were selling on Feb. 11.

However, this does not include instances where the price rise is due to increased supplier costs or other costs.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown said anyone who sees evidence of price gouging going on in Austin, Travis County or anywhere in Texas, should document it and report it immediately to the Office of the Attorney General.

"We need our business partners to join in our community effort to all do our part to limit electricity use. Today’s order will help accomplish just that," Brown said in a statement Tuesday. "Additionally, it will reinforce efforts to protect Travis County families from price gouging. This winter weather emergency is not an excuse to take advantage of our neighbors when they are vulnerable."

If you see something you believe is an example of price gouging, there are three ways to file a complaint with the AG's office. You can email complaints to consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov, call the consumer protection hotline at 800-621-0508 to make a report or fill out the 13-step online complaint form, which can be found using this link.

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