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Power Restored to Most Austin Energy Customers (Update)

Update: Austin Energy now confirms the number of power pole fires last night was a record. The utility says tree limbs did not contribute to the large number of fires.

Update: Austin Energy says "power has been restored to virtually all customers, and will be restored to any remaining customers by lunchtime."

Austin Energy spokesperson Ed Clark says the utility experienced "probably a record number" of power pole fires, which lead to widespread power outages. And Austin's lack of rain, mixed with heavy overnight misting, is to blame.

Austin Energy writes:

The rash of fires is the result of a lack of rain over a long period of time. Dirt and dust builds up on the small devices (called insulators) that connect power lines to power poles. Misty conditions such as those experienced overnight can cause the dirt and dust to track across the insulator providing a pathway for electricity to move from the power line to the pole. There are about 140,000 power poles throughout the Austin Energy system.

"What the system really needs is a very good rain, a good hard rain to clean off ... the power poles in the Austin Energy system," Clark says.

Original post (8:44 a.m.): Thousands of Austin Energy customers are without power this morning, thanks to heavy mists wreaking havoc on electrical poles. 

Shortly before 8 a.m., Austin Energy tweeted that approximately 5,000 residents were still without power. 

If you have an outage, you can call 322-9100, or report it online at the Austin Energy Storm Center

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.