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Travis County judge signing order to turn off outside lighting, prohibit price gouging

Judge Andy Brown's order comes after many Central Texans have been without power for more than a day.

AUSTIN, Texas — Travis County Judge Andy Brown said Tuesday that he is signing an order to require Austin businesses, stadiums and skyscrapers to turn off their outside lighting and any other non-essential lights or functions, in an effort to conserve energy during the city's ongoing power crisis. 

This announcement comes after social media outrage over photos of the Austin skyline lit up Monday night, as thousands of residents in neighboring areas continued to deal with power outages. Austin Energy said Tuesday that the downtown network is currently excluded from load shedding during controlled outages mandated by ERCOT because it is a part of a "complicated, inter-connected network" that includes critical buildings.

Read the latest about the ongoing power outages in the Austin area.

Brown said the order will also prohibit local businesses, including hotels, from artificially raising prices. Brown said anyone who sees evidence of price gouging going on in Austin, Travis County or anywhere in Texas, should document it and report it immediately to the Office of the Attorney General.

"We need our business partners to join in our community effort to all do our part to limit electricity use. Today’s order will help accomplish just that," Brown said in a statement Tuesday. "Additionally, it will reinforce efforts to protect Travis County families from price gouging. This winter weather emergency is not an excuse to take advantage of our neighbors when they are vulnerable."

On Tuesday, the KVUE Defenders reported that some people in Austin have been voicing concerns about possible price gouging in the area, specifically with hotel room costs. Several people have reported possible price gouging at a South Austin hotel on social media, including KVUE’s Bryan Mays.

If you see something you believe is an example of price gouging, there are three ways to file a complaint with the AG's office. You can email complaints to consumeremergency@oag.texas.gov, call the consumer protection hotline at 800-621-0508 to make a report or fill out the 13-step online complaint form, which can be found using this link.

Learn more about how to know if a situation qualifies as price gouging.

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