Latest ice storm produced 10 times more service calls than 2021 freeze, Austin Energy says


AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an update Saturday afternoon, Austin Energy leaders said 68,000 customers were still waiting for power. They say the ice storm caused more damage to trees and power poles than the 2021 freeze which is taking longer to repair.

Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent said 278,000 customers’ power had been restored by Saturday.

She stressed that people without power in an area where “no outage is being reported” need to notify the agency.

“If you receive a text message that says that power has been restored and your power has not, reply to that text message O-U-T or out,” Sargent said.

Austin Energy Vice President of System Field Operations Elton Richards presented pictures of storm damage.

Some showed tall utility poles that were snapped in half under the weight of ice. Others showed large tree limbs that came crashing down on top of power lines, pinning them in several spots.

He said recovering from this storm is taking much longer because power infrastructure like utility poles just take more time to replace.

“This isn’t like an hour-fix job. This is a full-day job for a six-man crew. They have to remove that pole they have to say they have to set a new pole, put new cross arms and transfer all of that stuff back over,” Richards said.

In the update, leaders compared the number of service calls the energy provider received in the first three days of the 2021 freeze and this latest freeze.

Back then, they say around 300 service calls were made in February ’21. This latest storm brought in more than 3,000.

As residents wait for power, frustration grows.

Joseph Sheffield lives just north of the Hyde Park neighborhood and has been without power since Wednesday.

He said he understands that repairs are taking a while but criticizes the correspondence he has received from Austin Energy.

“We were promised that Friday night everything was going to be back on and of course that turned out to be premature. Austin Energy should not be promising things they can’t deliver,” Sheffield said.

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