Winter Storm Session today

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Kathie Tovo
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:18 am

Winter Storm Session today

Post by Kathie Tovo »

Good morning Colleagues!

Today marks our second of two Council work sessions to discuss the Winter Storm response. The conversation today is scheduled to focus on:

Sheltering (1:00 - 2:30 p.m.)
Austin Energy (2:30 - 3:30 p.m.)
Austin Water (3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Council identification of next steps (4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.)

Exhibit A of our Council resolution identified issues for each of these areas; in a bit, I’ll post some of the questions I have related to those areas in case anyone finds it helpful to see mine.

Since we've had several Austin Energy and Austin Water Utility conversations in a few different forums (as a Council and as committees), some of the areas identified in Exhibit A have been discussed at this point.

I look forward to our conversation.

Best,
Kathie
Council District 9
Kathie Tovo
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:18 am

Re: Winter Storm Session today

Post by Kathie Tovo »

Colleagues,
Here are some of the questions I have related to areas of discussion on today's Council session agenda. A good number of my questions about AE and AWU have received attention in previous sessions, so you'll see just a few in those areas.

I am still reading through the Hurricane Harvey After Action Report from 2018, so I likely will have more detailed questions about sheltering operations in particular.

I look forward to hearing your questions and our conversation.

best,
Kathie


Sheltering
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Pre-storm
• Shelter designation
Which staff were responsible for creating a shelter plan? How many shelters did they plan, and for what capacity? Which facilities were identified as shelters in advance? With which entities did the City coordinate to identify possible shelters before the storm? Did these include AISD and ACC?

• Outreach to individuals experiencing homelessness (HOST, PATH, Watershed Protection, other city staff)
Which departments conducted outreach, and when? What information did they offer?
What support did they provide? How did individuals experiencing homelessness respond to the information?

• Staff/volunteer recruitment
Which departments identified staff to support sheltering operations? Are these staff pre-identified? Do they have training or other preparation?

• Coordination of services (food, water, behavioral health)
What services did staff plan to provide at shelters? What services did they provide? Did staff identify gaps in services that should be considered in future emergencies?

• Coordination with community-led efforts
How and when did staff coordinate and communicate with Downtown Austin Alliance, Austin Mutual Aid, Community Resilience Trust, 10,000 Fearless First Responders, and other groups who were conducting outreach and, in some cases, housing individuals in hotels?

How and when did staff coordinate and communicate with Austin Disaster Relief Network, St. Martin’s Church, and any other organizations that opened sheltering operations?

• Implementation of recommendations from the 2018 “Climate Resilience Action Plan for City Assets and Operations”
• Implementation of recommendations from the 2018 “Hurricane Harvey After Action Report”
How did staff implement recommendations from this report, including those related to pre-identification of staff, training, operational communications, and procedures?

Storm response
• Identification of additional shelters and warming centers; correlation with outage areas; designations of 24-hour facilities
How did staff identify additional facilities once the storm was underway? Which staff were responsible for this planning? Did the staff overlay areas of outage with facility maps? How did the staff determine which facilities would be warming centers versus 24-hour shelters? How did people get to the shelters?
With which entities did the City coordinate to identify possible shelters during the storm? Did these include ACC?

How did staff implement recommendations from the 2018 after action report about Hurricane Harvey, including those related to staff, training, operational communications, and procedures?


• Statistics on those sheltered

• Staff/volunteer statistics
How were additional shelters staffed? What challenges did the City experience with regard to staffing?

• Provision of services during/after storm (food, water, behavioral health)
What services were provided at City shelters, and how did this vary among facilities? What challenges did the City face with regard to service provision?

• Facility challenges
Several facilities experienced electrical outages or water problems. Please describe some of these challenges and how staff responded.

• Information about where individuals experiencing homelessness went when shelters closed
Were City staff or others able to perform Coordinated Assessments with individuals who had not yet completed one?

• Estimated costs

Looking ahead
Communication and coordination with community efforts (pre-, during, and post-disaster)
Pre-identification of civic and community facilities and assets
Neighborhood-level resilience hubs and strategies




Austin Energy
2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Pre-storm
• Plant winterization
How, when, and to what extent did Austin Energy winterize its facilities? When Austin Energy enters into Purchase Power Agreements, do those detail provisions for facility winterization?

• Communication with ERCOT
How much in advance of 2/14 did ERCOT communicate to AE, and what message did ERCOT communicate?

• Designation and updates of critical circuits
How often does AE update its designations of critical circuits? What new uses or facilities or other factors trigger these updates? What does a critical circuit redesign entail, and how feasible is such a process?

• Vegetation management
• Implementation of recommendations from the 2018 “Climate Resilience Action Plan for City Assets and Operations”

Storm Response
• Segmentation, including restoration of power and prioritization of circuits
Please describe the difference between the manual process AE uses to shut off power to individual customers for non-payment and the process required to shut off power to non-critical circuits.

• Communication with customers about severity of energy crisis and duration of outages


• Outreach to medically vulnerable registered customers
In one of the press conferences, Austin Energy indicated that staff had reached out to customers on the medically vulnerable list. What percentage of these customers was AE able to contact? How many of these customers lost power during the storm, and for how long were they without power? Did the City transport some of these customers to shelter or hospital facilities, and if so, how many were transported and to where? How were they transported?

• Work with industrial energy users and commercial businesses to reduce load
When did AE begin to communicate with its largest customers about the need to reduce load? What challenges are present in shutting off power to large industrial customers?

• Support for hospitals and critical infrastructure
What challenges did hospitals in our area experience? Please describe the various responses that were required of the City to ensure patients continued to receive care.

• Cold load pickup as factor in power restoration
To what extent did cold load pickup result in additional outages as AE restored power during and after the storm?

• Performance of Austin Energy’s plants throughout emergency

• Load shed required of surrounding municipalities
Some municipalities had far shorter outages and were required to shed much less load during and immediately after the winter storm. Please explain why this discrepancy occurred.

• Output of Austin Energy’s plants in comparison to what total load would have been without forced outages

• Performance of solar panels

• Information about power plants offline statewide (which types, and were all offline for weather-related reasons)
Which plants fared best during the storm? Which experienced the most challenges?

• How did investor-owned utilities compare to municipally-owned utilities in terms of outages?
• Accuracy of outage maps, especially during restoration

Looking ahead
• Circuit design
• Future of grid
• Battery storage
• Medically vulnerable registry
• Real-time outage information
• Thresholds for public messages about curtailing particular uses





Austin Water
3:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Pre-storm
• Plant winterization
• Redundancy of power sources for critical water infrastructure
• Relationship between water infrastructure and critical electric circuits
• Implementation of recommendations from the 2018 “Climate Resilience Action Plan for City Assets and Operations”

Storm response
• Support for hospitals and critical infrastructure
What challenges did hospitals in our area experience? Please describe the various responses that were required of the City to ensure patients continued to receive care.

• Performance and reliability of water treatment facilities, lift stations, and Longhorn Dam
• Assistance to properties without water

• Alternative water
Some residences and businesses have rainwater collection; can rainwater be treated safely to potable standards? Did AWU offer information about this issue during or after the storm? Why or why not

• Consumption comparisons. Commissioner Faust asked a question during the Winter Storm briefing to the Water Forward Task Force about how consumption during the winter storm compared to average summer consumption. AWU’s response seemed to be that the consumption was comparable; the Task Force asked the follow up question about why, if we are prepared to serve that level of consumption during the summer months, was storage at AWU reservoirs so depleted during the winter storm? Please address.

Looking ahead
• Infrastructure and system upgrades (including line maintenance and underground lines)

• Thresholds for public messages about curtailing particular uses

• Real-time outage information

• Public education campaign on water shutoffs and necessary equipment
Does AWU plan to offer additional or different education to the public about emergency preparation? If so, how will it differ from past messages, and what avenues will AWU to distribute these messages?
Council District 9
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