AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of people in South Austin lost power Saturday during an early heatwave that hit Central Texas. While demand was a factor in the outage, Austin Energy says the outage had nothing to do with the stability of Texas' power grid.
In a statement made to KVUE Monday, Austin Energy said the company took emergency action to cut power to around 3,600 customers in South Austin on Saturday. This was a result of a demand surge from the high temperatures and ongoing construction on a new substation.
The power was cut in order to help circuits in the area that were overloaded by high energy use, Austin Energy said.
"These actions were not the result of an ERCOT mandate, but instead were necessary to safely operate Austin Energy’s distribution system," the statement read in part. "Austin Energy restored service to affected customers through the early evening and all service was back online by approximately 7:30 p.m. Saturday."
Austin Energy added that in response to South Austin growth, the utility is building a new substation to accommodate higher energy use in the area.
"Bluff Springs transmission [the new substation] is scheduled to be energized this Friday, May 13, with the new transformers scheduled to be brought online around June 10," a spokesperson said. "We have rerouted circuits and do not expect to see additional outages in that area due to these issues. We took this action Saturday in order to avoid a larger outage and ensure greater reliability as we enter summer."
Temperatures in the Austin area got close to 100 degrees over Mother's Day weekend, which is unusual during the peak of spring in Central Texas. The unseasonably hot temperatures had state leaders preparing the Texas power grid for high demand.
ERCOT leaders asked energy generators to postpone any planned outages for this past weekend because the grid needed more energy than normal. Starting around May 15 is when Texas power plants are not supposed to go offline for maintenance, due to the state needing power for the high energy demand in the hot summer months. But this year, the high temperatures are coming early.
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