Agenda & reading list, AE segment of Joint Oversight mtg March 3, 2021

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Leslie Pool
Posts: 193
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Agenda & reading list, AE segment of Joint Oversight mtg March 3, 2021

Post by Leslie Pool »


In preparation for our joint utility oversight committee meeting Wednesday, March 3, at 1pm, I’d like to lay out the framework for the AEUOC portion and potential topics.

First, I’d like to say that there is a lot of ground to cover, and there's general consensus that Wednesday’s meeting will be the first of several over the coming months to cover all the issues we identify. Tomorrow we have just one hour, thanks to the AWUOC chair generously sharing the first portion of their regularly scheduled meeting with us. We have a regularly scheduled AE Oversight committee meeting on March 31, and that's when we'll continue this meeting series, again in a joint meeting with AWUOC.

In that meeting series context, our conversation can be framed over the next months as a “how it started – how it’s going – what’s ahead” look, which will help us to review the events, examine lessons learned, and determine improvements needed and the best path forward to accomplish them. I invite you to come to our meeting knowing that we have a lot of ground to cover, and that we'll start to dig into that ground tomorrow with this first in a series discussion.

Given the amount of time we have for this first meeting, we will start with some foundational information from AE leadership about the utility, including the timeline of the three specific storm events.

Next, we should move in short order to tackle the issue that I see as top of mind :: how Austin Energy communicated with the public and with its customers.

As the last topic of discussion tomorrow, we will close with a review of the customer assistance and relief programs for AE customers, including a short description of each for the public's interest.

So, I would like to pose this outline for this first meeting:

Texas Power Grid & Austin Energy

AE presentation: The Texas power grid under the state authority of the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT; how Austin Energy operates as a municipally-owned utility; broad timeline of the storm events and ensuing communications issued from the utility.

How it Started

1. AE Presentation: AE Timeline of pivotal dates of storms, beginning blackouts, and overlayed sequence of AE communication efforts.

2. Follow-up questions and discussion of AE customer communications:
> What was the plan for communications, and what tools did AE employ, particularly in light of the difficulty of customers receiving information in a power outage situation?
> How did the AE customer alert program work? We’ve heard from constituents that the messaging system had mixed effectiveness – some folks got every message, others received minimal texts.
> Customers in apartments did not receive the same information/alerts as customers in single family residences – Can we identify potential fixes for that gap in communication?
> What other improvements or collaborative communication efforts does AE envision are possible?

3. AE Presentation: List and description of the customer assistance programs available to the public.

Like all of you, I am eager, as is the leadership at Austin Energy, to analyze what happened, identify lessons learned, and implement improvements without delay to ensure our residents never go through this again, that we are better prepared for the next event. We must look unflinchingly at how we and our utility performed, recognizing that while this was an unprecedented challenge, we will take the responsibility that belongs to us, and rise to the challenge of doing better for our city.

This is, as I mentioned, the first of several meetings to come, but if you all have additions or edits to suggest, please reply here.

Below, I have included what I hope is a useful reading list that includes some excellent reporting on the winter storm power crisis from a variety of media sources, along with some helpful AE and ERCOT graphs.

Looking forward to tomorrow,



The Texas Freeze: Why the Power Grid Failed (2/19/21)
By Katherine Blunt & Russell Gold
The Wall Street Journal
Upload: ... 103542.pdf
Link: ... 1613777856

Gov. Greg Abbott wants power companies to “winterize.” Texas’ track record won’t make that easy. (2/20/2221)
By Erin Douglas
The Texas Tribune
Upload: ... 103916.pdf
Link: ... winterize/

Texas Utility Regulator Orders Energy Price Hike While Millions Go Without Power (2/16/21)
By Khaleda Rahman
Upload: ... 104249.pdf
Link: ... es-1569554

How economic theories influence energy policy (2/17/21)
By Carey King
Austin American-Statesman
Upload: ... 104604.pdf
Link: ... 825700002/

Editorial: This time, design the Texas power system to protect customers (2/27/21)
Austin American-Statesman Editorial Board
Upload: ... 104834.pdf
Link: ... 835566002/

Austin Energy calls state power grid management system 'unacceptable' (2/26/21)
By Erica Proffer & Mike Marut
Austin American-Statesman, KVUE
Upload: ... 105152.pdf
Link: ... 7475e51a23

'Muzzled and eviscerated': Critics say Abbott appointees gutted enforcement of Texas grid rules (2/26/21)
By Eric Dexheimer & Jay Root
The Houston Chronicle
Upload: ... 105418.pdf
Link: ... 982421.php

Abbott appointees made 'astonishing' cuts to power reliability team before deadly Texas storm (2/19/21)
By Jay Root & Eric Dexheimer
The Houston Chronicle
Upload: ... 105640.pdf
Link: ... 963686.php

Grid Managers Say Texans May Get 'Rotating' Blackouts Once Their Power Returns (2/18/21)
By Mose Buchele
Houston Public Media, KUT
Upload: ... 105949.pdf
Link: ... r-returns/

The Truth About Texas: Thermal Power Plant Failures are the Blackout Culprits (2/18/21)
By Heather Zichal
The Power Line
Upload: ... 110259.pdf
Link: ... -culprits/

Polar Vortex: How the Jet Stream and Climate Change Bring on Cold Snaps (2/2/18)
By Bob Berwyn
Inside Climate News
Upload: ... 110511.pdf
Link: ... te-change/

Austin Energy Distribution Circuits, 2011
Upload: ... 110915.pdf

Net Generation and Forecast Demand, in Megawatt-Hours (February 6-20, 2021)
Graphic by Energy Information Administration, ERCOT, Weather Underground
Upload: ... 111040.jpg
Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7