by Michael Adkison and Emily Chavez
AUSTIN, Texas — In their first press conference at any point of the severe winter weather that hit Central Texas this week, Austin officials iterated their estimation that citywide power would be restored by 6 p.m. on Friday evening. An Austin Energy official with boots on the ground working on power restoration said he wasn't so sure.
Austin Energy's General Manager, Jackie Sargent, spoke of being "two steps forward, three steps back" in responding to the ice storm, saying officials had not anticipated the storm's severity.
"We know that this has been a very frustrating situation for customers without power," she said Thursday morning. "At this point because of the forecast of rising temperatures, we are expecting to be wrapping up our major restoration efforts by Friday evening."
CBS Austin spoke with Austin Energy officials working along powerlines in south Austin. We asked if he anticipated that the 6 p.m. restoration estimate is accurate. Elton Richards, the vice president of electrical systems field operations at Austin Energy, said he "would not say that."
"We've never given an estimated restoration time," Richards said. "Until all the circuits get walked down, that's when we'll come out and give an estimated restoration time. But we've still got about 50 circuits that we're working today, trying to get walked down, just to try and get that estimate."