Let’s hit a few points not covered in the accompanying article. First, a lot of questions were raised yesterday about why downtown Austin was still lit up while adjacent East Austin was almost totally dark — as were many other parts of town. Austin Energy responded with the following statement:
“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 infrastructure and government buildings. Shutting down the downtown network would also cut off electricity to these critical buildings, which may also house vital communications equipment.”
In response to concerns about downtown, the Downtown Austin Alliance systematically reached out to building owners and asked them to cut electricity usage, including lights. On another front, Austin Energy shut down power to major manufacturers, like Samsung. The utility worked with individual companies on the front end to try to give them time to prepare and protect the manufacturing processes from a sudden loss of power.
Also, I want to thank the hundreds, or thousands, of folks out there trying their best to keep this situation from getting much worse and responding to a huge increase in emergency calls. I’m talking about Austin Energy and Austin Water employees (full disclosure I used to work there), Police, EMS and Fire that are responding to a massive increase in calls and many others. That’s just the public sector employees. Thanks also to all the essential workers like grocery store employees and of course medical personnel.
Meanwhile, at CBS Austin, reporter Christian Flores landed an interview with Bill Magness, the CEO of ERCOT. Magness said that through the outages ERCOT is trying to prevent a much more catastrophic situation. Flores asked what could be more catastrophic than millions of people without power in the middle of an historic freeze.
Magness chillingly replied:
“I completely understand what you’re saying. Having to live without power during these kinds of conditions is horrible, absolutely, but the catastrophic outcome I’m talking about is if we had let the system go into a stage where a blackout would happen, we wouldn’t be talking about when are we going to restore the power, when are we going to turn it back on. We would be talking about rebuilding portions of the electric system. We wouldn’t be able to do this in days.
We wouldn’t be able to do this when the weather warmed up. There’s rebuilding efforts that could take really long periods of time, and people could be out of power for very extended periods.”
On a lighter note, on the Daily Social Distancing Show, Trevor Noah did a feature Tuesday night on the power outages in Texas. He pointed out that Texans aren’t used to snow and then did an imitation of a Texan shooting an automatic weapon at falling snow flakes and telling them to go back to Canada.
In other comedy, a tweet from Ted Cruz resurfaced in which he mocked California for its power outages last August.
“California is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity.” Cruz added, “Biden/Harris/AOC want to make CA’s failed energy policy the standard nationwide. Hope you don’t like air conditioning!”
After Twitter users resurfaced the tweet and began pounding Cruz, he replied, “I got no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas & our State shuts down. Not good. Stay safe.”
Could this be a kinder, gentler side of Ted Cruz that we’ve never seen? He could try this reply in other situations. For instance he could have used it back in 2016 when Donald Trump labeled him, “Lying Ted Cruz.”
Cruz: “I got no defense.”
Going forward Cruz could use it when people say that he participated in a lawsuit trying to overturn the votes of Americans in six states, all to pander to the Trump base in hopes of gaining their favor for a 2024 presidential run.
Cruz: “I got no defense.”
And, the new phrase could come in handy when people say, that after the lawsuit gambit failed, Cruz kept cravenly playing to the same Trump base and helped incite the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol which endangered the lives of his Congressional colleagues and the life of Vice President Mike Pence, and left five people dead.
Cruz could then reply: “I got no defense.”
Photo at top by Daryl Slusher
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