Austin Energy seeing unprecedented demand for backup power options

September 17, 2021

Popularity of solar and generators push installation timeline to six months

Austin Energy is seeing unprecedented demand among its customers for whole house generators and solar panels with batteries designed to act as backup power sources during electrical outages. Since Winter Storm Uri in February, Austin Energy has processed more solar battery installations than in the previous five years combined. While the utility typically fulfills two to three installations of whole house generators per year, there have been more than 350 such requests since February.

Requests for straightforward installations, like new meters or simple solar panels, can be fulfilled within two to three weeks. However, projects like whole house generators or solar panels with battery backups may require a more detailed level of service: planned outages, coordination between multiple parties, approvals by City inspectors and securing equipment in high demand. Despite hiring more employees and contractors, the pandemic has stressed the utility’s staffing levels. Demand also remains high from the construction industry.

Austin Energy crews often work with contractors hired by customers for these installations. Austin Energy encourages customers to hire contractors who are licensed and insured, and to find out if they should schedule pre-construction meetings with Austin Energy’s own inspectors before beginning a new project.