Austin, Texas reaches agreement with other utilities for emergency help

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Mutual aid agreements are common practice among law agencies and fire departments to be implemented in the event of emergencies.

The mutual aid agreement approved this week by the city of Austin, Texas is with neighboring utilities. It came about because of t he February ice storm that paralyzed the city and led to the termination of some city leaders.

Under the agreement approved by the Austin City Council, Austin would be able to reach out to neighboring utilities for help in restoration efforts in the event of a power emergency.

The $1.75 million agreement is with Center-Point Energy, New Braunfels Utilities and CPS Energy. Under the agreement, crews from Houston, San Antonio and New Braunfels would be brought in to help Austin.

City leaders reached the agreement after a February freeze.

Matt Mitchell, an Austin Energy spokesman called it an insurance policy, reported the Austin American-Statesman. He said the February storm illustrated how important it is to have such a contract in place.

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During the ice storm, more than a thousand workers from other utilities came to Austin to help with power restoration.

While the city council approved the contract, it also signed off on $28.2 million to contractors for storm debris removal. The storm not only hit when Mayor Kirk Watson was in office only a few weeks, it also led to the firing of former City Manager Spencer Cronk and former Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent.