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Why Downtown Austin has power, while neighboring areas remain in the dark

As of Tuesday morning, Austin Energy said the state is still not allowing it to restore power to 42% of the city because of “grid stability concerns.”

AUSTIN, Texas — As millions of Texans went to bed on Feb. 15 without power statewide, Downtown Austin was lit up while its neighboring areas were left in the dark. The scene made its rounds on social media. 

While the images drew criticism from Austinites online, there is a reason why downtown has remained with power while other areas are left without it, according to Austin Energy.

In a statement sent Tuesday, Austin Energy said the downtown network is excluded for now from load shedding (power outages) during controlled outages mandated by ERCOT. The reason being: downtown is a part of a critical network of infrastructure which includes buildings such as the Dell Seton Medical Center, warming centers, the COVID-19 Alternate Care Site, the Capitol Complex and Austin City Hall and other government buildings.

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Here is the statement sent from Austin Energy in full: 

"During this energy emergency, many people have noticed that buildings in the downtown area have remained with power. Here’s why: The downtown network is excluded for now from load shedding (power outages) during controlled outages mandated by ERCOT. This is a complicated, inter-connected network which includes critical buildings like the Dell Seton Medical Center, warming centers, the COVID-19 Alternate Care Site, Capitol Complex and Austin City Hall, as well as other critical infrastructu

re and government buildings. Shutting down the downtown network would also cut off electricity to these critical buildings, which may also house vital communications equipment. Austin Energy is working with the Building Owners & Managers Association and the Downtown Austin Alliance in asking their members to curtail non-essential power use. Austin Energy is looking at additional conservation options downtown. If you’re fortunate enough to have power, we’re making an urgent plea to customers to please keep your power usage to a minimum."

As of Tuesday morning, Austin Energy said the state is still not allowing it to restore power to 42% of the city because of “grid stability concerns.”

For a look at outages in the Austin area, click here.

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