|(AUSTIN, TX) – On Tuesday, March 21st, 2023, Austin City Councilmembers Vanessa Fuentes (District 2) and Ryan Alter (District 5) introduced resolutions to begin the process of burying power lines across Austin. These items were introduced in response to February’s historic ice storm, in which nearly half of all Austin Energy customers at some point lost power.
Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes’ resolution, item 58, will assess the feasibility of burying power lines for on-going construction projects in the City right-of-way, such as city-owned roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, and other public infrastructure. This assessment will also evaluate how various City departments can collaborate on future city-funded projects to bury lines in a more efficient and less expensive way.
“Last month’s ice storm served as another wakeup call to the threat of climate change facing our communities. Austinites deserve to feel safe and assured that our city’s infrastructure is prepared to handle any extreme weather event,” said Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes. “Though there is plenty of work left to do, these resolutions mark a critical step toward the climate resiliency needed to keep our neighbors and homes safe.”
Councilmember Ryan Alter’s item 84 directs the City Manager to develop a plan to convert existing overhead power lines into underground, buried power lines.“I began working on this item in the immediate aftermath of our recent winter storm when, like many of you, my family lost power. With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change, Austin must take appropriate action to ensure our infrastructure is safe, resilient, and reliable,” said Councilmember Ryan Alter.
“My item and the item sponsored by Councilmember Fuentes are complementary to one another. My resolution includes a feasibility study and long-term planning for both high-priority uses and for areas without new construction opportunities. While people are understandably frustrated after losing power repeatedly in recent years, with these combined efforts we are taking action in the way that our community should expect.”
Item 58 is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Ryan Alter, José ''Chito'' Vela, and Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis. Item 84 is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Vanessa Fuentes, José ''Chito'' Vela, Leslie Pool, and Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis.