AUSTIN (KXAN) — The number of Austin Energy customers without power has dropped from Wednesday morning, but there are still thousands without power as of Thursday.
By 9:30 p.m. Thursday, there were about 143,000 Austin Energy customers without power.
Austin Energy initially said power would be restored within 12 to 24 hours, then the company said Friday evening, but at Thursday’s press conference, that changed again.
“Austin Energy has determined we are unable to provide a specific restoration estimate,” said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy GM.
Sajit Nair lost power Wednesday morning and went about 36 hours without power. He said he was frustrated with the lack of communication from Austin Energy.
“You (Austin Energy) can’t give an answer to what is happening to the people so they can make informed decisions which is disappointing,” said Nair. “All I expect them to do is message back and say we don’t think we can fix it in the next few days please make plans accordingly. Even if they do that just that I can book a hotel anywhere and go.”
Austin Energy did send out tweets on its Twitter account, but customers like Mike Mancuso said it needs to be more transparent and give accurate information.
“When things like this happen people are relying on your (Austin Energy) updates so we know when our power is going to come back on,” said Mancuso. “We still have no idea when ours is going to come back on.”
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson discussed communication during the press conference on Thursday.
“We need to have questions answered, including how we communicate with the public, how we make sure the public knows what’s going on,” said Watson.
Austin Energy crews continue to work around the clock to restore power to customers, but there are some challenges they are facing.
The majority of outages from this winter storm are complex involving heavy construction equipment that are sometimes impassable due to downed trees and branches,” said Sargent. “We are continuing to experience repeated outages, meaning ice, trees and tree limbs continue to knock out power to the same circuit’s crews have just restored.
At approximately 8:00 p.m. Nair and his family said their power had been restored. He is hoping for some changes in communication before the next big winter storm.