Monday, November 4, 2013

47th Annual Zilker Holiday Tree Installed Today

The Zilker Holiday Tree is standing tall for its 47th consecutive year, as Austin
Energy electricians and linemen construct the 155-foot-tall Austin icon today. Strung from Zilker's moonlight tower with more than 3,000 lights, it is visited each year by thousands and can be seen from miles away.

The tree will be lit the first Sunday in December in a public ceremony, then remain on from 6 p.m. until midnight every night until the end of the year. Winners of a children’s Zilker Holiday Tree art contest sponsored by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department will have the honor of flipping the switch to light the tree.

Photos from today's installation:

Good Progress Toward Energy Efficiency Goal

We are almost halfway to the goal of completing our second "conservation power plant" for the Austin community by offsetting 800 megawatts (MW) of energy use through energy efficiency by 2020. From 2007 through September 2013, Austin Energy has offset 365 MW, leaving 435 MW to achieve over the next seven years.

Our strategy to achieve the 800 MW goal includes an accelerated target mix of green building, energy efficiency and demand response products and services such as the smart thermostat program. These strategies also include services to capitalize on the growth of the electric vehicle market and other emerging technologies.

Our first conservation power plant was completed by offsetting 700 MW between 1982 and 2006.

Adding attic insulation is a common home energy efficiency improvement.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Heavy Rains Flood Substation and Nearby Fallwell Lane

Heavy rain deluged the I-35 corridor through Central Texas overnight into Thursday morning, with southeast Austin particularly hard-hit as Onion Creek and Boggy Creek rose swiftly, flooding property, damaging roads and causing outages to thousands of Austin Energy customers.
At peak, about 8,500 customers were without power. As rainwater runoff flowed across the Onion Creek Substation on Fallwell Lane and adjacent property, the substation was under several feet of water for several hours, as Onion Creek rose to its highest recorded level. In addition to trapping staff at Sand Hill Energy Center for several hours, the floodwater damaged fences, washed out parts of the roadway and downed trees. As water receded Thursday, crews were able to access flooded areas and restore power to circuits that were brought down during the flooding. The substation remained offline Friday as Austin Energy crews worked to clean up and assess the damage.
These photos were taken Thursday by Sand Hill Energy Center staff during the flood and the cleanup at Onion Creek substation on Friday.
Ground level view of Austin Energy's Onion Creek Substation near Fallwell Lane off Hwy 71 East. The mostly submerged fence in the foreground is 10 feet tall.
Heavy overnight rain caused flooding on Oct. 31, 2013, as water swept through the substation and Sand Hill Energy Center, washed out fences and part of the Fallwell Lane roadway that leads to the facilities.
View of floodwaters from Sand Hill Energy Center.
A gas company employee's truck was caught in the rushing water on Fallwell Lane.
An emergency helicopter pulled the trapped man from his truck.
This truck was washed away by the floodwaters.
View of the flooding as seen from Sand Hill Energy Center
The floodwater rose to waist height in the buildings (center of the picture) housing relay equipment at the substation.
The rains washed out fences and part of the Fallwell Lane roadway that leads to the Sand Hill plant.
More floodwaters along Fallwell Lane.

Chris Ayers sprays bleach water to wash out a relay cabinet that was flooded at the substation.

A crew ground lines before they can begin repairs Nov. 1, 2013, at the substation that had several feet of floodwater in buildings and equipment following heavy rain.