Snovid Anniversary

On the first anniversary of the SnoVID power blackout I laid out the story of my great uncle, Roger Heim. I thought it was relevant, facing the impending probabilty of going without power again for an extended period of time, potentially not surviving until the power came on again.

It’s possible. I need electricity to run some essential devices (CPAP, for one) the absence of which could cause traumatic loss of life. So I need the electricity to be on, and I need it to be on reliably. January 2023 saw a localized repeat of the power outages that were statewide in 2021, proving that the claims of Governor Abbott were the bullshit I knew them to be. The grid was not safe. Our power could be turned off for days for no good reason and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it.

Gross Negligence

I titled my original piece on the SnoVID debacle Guaranteed City Services for a very good reason. The City of Austin’s self-owned electric provider has gotten pretty lackadaisical over the last decade or so. They don’t seem as interested in making sure the power stays on all over the city all the time. The month of the SnoVID event marked two or three outages of more than a few minutes. I couldn’t even tell you how many times the power might periodically simply just turn off in the neighborhood over the months before and after. Ten? Twenty times? Who knows. I lost count.

After the grid service smoothed back out and returned to what Texas calls normal operations (but is still pretty sub-par) the power in the neighborhood was reliably on far more often than it had been up to that point. I had hopes that Austin would at least have learned a lesson from that catastrophe.


This last January proved those hopes to be unfounded. Both Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk and AustinEnergy’s manager Jackie Sargent were in charge during the SnoVID event. Both of them should have understood what it meant to be prepared for a hazardous winter storm. They clearly did not do their jobs and should be summarily fired for their failures. The power was off for three days because of a light dusting of ice across the city. I don’t want to hear about trees or power lines or any other bullshit excuses. Those crews should have been on standby and the power should have been restored across the city within hours, not days.

The storm my uncle Roge sat for a month without power in, hunting geese and squirrels and whatever else he could find to shoot and eat and survive for another day, that storm dumped a total of eight feet of snow across the entire midwest. Our power stayed on in our little town of four thousand people. The crews were out working day and night to make sure that the power stayed on, if that was what it took. That was the job they were paid to do, and they did their job. Which is more than I can say for the people who run the City of Austin.

This is 2023, I hear you saying. You can buy battery backups and solar power panels and personal wind turbines. You don’t need the grid to be up 24/7 anymore. Get with the times! That’s great. Sure. I could buy all those things. I probably will forego the rarified monthly dinner out in exchange for buying a battery backup that will power my CPAP machine, charge my phone and whatever else I can afford to pay to keep running. Probably not much. I’m disabled. I don’t have a lot of time, energy or money to devote to solving the Texas power grid problem for myself, personally.

Either we are living in a world where we can rely on our neighbors to have our backs, rely on our government to keep the power on and to provide basic city services as if they were guaranteed, or we are living in a anarchist hellhole where only the wealthy can buy a ticket out. We need to decide which version of this story we want to be in. Soon.

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.

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