2023 Texas Ice Storm
This past week, Texans experienced another historic winter storm that wreaked havoc across the state, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and causing the governor to issue disaster declarations for 7 counties. Austin has been the epicenter of a power crisis as tens of thousands still wait for electricity to be restored. Severe ice accumulation on tree limbs caused huge branches to break, many falling on power lines and disconnecting entire neighborhoods from power. Restoration crews began sweeping the city on Tuesday, servicing power lines and clearing debris in a slow and intensive process to restore power to residents. As of Saturday, 73,000 Austin Energy customers were still without power. 20,000 are still powerless, as of this writing, on Monday morning.
Losing Power: Localized Outages
The winter weather event was one of the most widespread ice storms to hit Austin, and certainly one of the worst. Over 1,500 localized outages caused by hundreds of pounds of ice accumulating on trees and power lines were reported, and more than half of Austin Energy customers – about 265,000 – lost power at some point in the week, many for multiple days. Although these outages were reminiscent of Winter Storm Uri two years ago (when the grid was strained to the point of breaking due to demand for power surpassing what was available), these outages were localized and thus not related to the state power grid.
After the events two years ago, many Texas residents were concerned that another grid failure might occur. It’s good to see that the grid is holding up better at this time, but events like these are a reminder that outages can occur from far simpler things than the grid failing, such as fallen tree limbs. The ice accumulation on vegetation this past week was historic, but because no one expected it to be so significant, preventative measures and communication with the public about the danger was limited. Austin Energy estimated full restoration would occur by Friday morning, but power restoration has not actually been completed as of this article (12pm February 6th), with over 20,000 customers left without power.
Staying Safe: Solar + Battery Backup
Outages can be hard to predict, and can occur due to a great number of unforeseen reasons, both simple and complex. For these reasons, a growing number of people are looking to solar and batteries as a solution. While solar provides great benefits to your home in the form of clean, cheap energy, on its own it does not protect you from extended outages. That’s where batteries come into the picture. Batteries can store your solar energy for use during any form of emergency or power outage, be it local or a result of grid failure. This guarantees that your home retains power even if the rest of your neighborhood is in a blackout. Batteries can keep you safe and comfortable in the event of an emergency like the one Austin has just endured.
*This week we will be visiting some of our solar + battery customers in central Texas to hear their success stories during the ice storm grid failures. Stay Tuned.
Why Go Solar in Austin
While we’re talking about Austin and solar plus battery backups, it’s worth mentioning that Austin has some incredible incentives for residents to go solar. In addition to the Federal Solar Tax Credit that covers 30% of the total cost of your solar array, Austin Energy offers its customers a $2,500 rebate for installing solar on their homes. In addition, Austin Energy has one of the most progressive solar buyback options in the country, which pays solar customers $0.097 for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of excess solar energy their panels generate. This is more than what customers pay for electricity coming from the grid, meaning your solar energy is worth more to Austin Energy than grid energy. Customers selling their excess power at this higher price see faster returns on their investment and can even make money off their solar array once it’s paid off.
Go Solar with NATiVE
NATiVE Solar has been serving Austin and surrounding cities for over 15 years now. Our team of experts can help design and build unique solar and battery systems that fit your specific needs and desires. Have a problem with your current system? Even if it wasn’t installed by NATiVE our team can service any system and get it back up and running efficiently. Take advantage of the incentives to go solar available in Austin, protect yourself in emergencies, and go solar with NATiVE Solar.
[…] the most recent ice storm in Texas, NATiVE Solar sat down with customer Matt Miller and discussed the importance of his home solar + […]