Austin residents outraged that power outages could last through Sunday

Megan Armstrong San Antonio News

Last week, more than 160,000 customers served by Austin Energy, the city’s main electric utility, were left without power as a Central Texas freeze caused downed lines across town. While 95% of the power is back online, upward of 25,000 people closed out the weekend crossing their fingers that they could catch the Grammys or The Last of Us or even just, you know, access basic human services like electricity and heating.

But on Sunday evening, February 5, dejected Austinites without power turned apoplectic at the notice from Austin Energy that it may be another week before the lights come back on in their homes.

“This estimation is based on the following factors: rate of restoration since the start of the storm, number of workers involved in the restoration process, a more complete damage assessment, and weather,” Austin Energy said in a release.

In short, it caused an uproar in Austin and beyond.

Our favorite anthropomorphic highway used some colorful language to express the frustration city residents have had with the extended timeline to get power back online.

Fantastic Fest co-founder Paul Alvarado noted the moving timeline over the course of the last week.

Initially, the outage was estimated to be 12-24 hours long. By Thursday, February 2, Austin residents were notified that 6 p.m. Friday, February 3, was the target to get all power back online, which was quickly walked back.

Even Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver joined the chorus.

Elsewhere, particularly on the Austin Reddit page, users commended the crews — Austin Energy lineworkers, plus auxiliary workers from Houston– and San Antonio-based utilities — while condemning the utility and city leadership. Some posters suggested bringing coffee or other breakfast items to tired workers at their trucks, with some extremely specific suggestions beyond tacos.

“Monster Energy Zero Ultra,” one user wrote. “The white can monster. It’s popular with the crew guys.”

With potential wind gusts of 35 miles per hour expected this week, which could delay restoration further, maybe make it a four-pack.