A combination of low temperatures, damage to infrastructure, and record need for electricity have left millions of Texans without power Tuesday, Feb. 16, as service providers, including Pedernales Electric Cooperative, struggle to restore it.
PEC, like other electric utilities across Texas, is complying with the statewide grid directive on service interruptions. These interruptions are currently lasting up to three hours at a time in PEC’s 8,100-square-mile service territory. However, some of the power outages might have been caused by weather damage such as ice.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) managers declared an emergency Monday, Feb. 15, after the historic winter weather strained utilities beyond their ability to supply power and now says it could be days before the issue is resolved. ERCOT manages power to 26 million Texans, who make up about 90 percent of the state’s electricity load.
A majority of the blackouts are being caused as part of controlled outages under ERCOT’s emergency operations plan. At this point, the level of electric demand is far exceeding the available supply. Controlled outages prevent the entire system from having uncontrolled, cascading outages.
“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in a written statement.
Part of the struggle to restore power in the Highland Lakes is that PEC crews are battling hazardous travel conditions that forced them to stop making repairs at about 10 p.m. Sunday as it became too dangerous to travel on icy roadways, according to a statement from Mike Viesca, spokesman for PEC.
“Complicating matters is the fact that making repairs and bringing these areas back online requires we do so in a controlled manner for grid stability; this ensures the overall electric grid remains stable or else we could suffer longer-lasting outages,” Viesca said. “Other electric utilities across Texas are facing the same situation as PEC.”
PEC will also be sending out an all-member email Tuesday, Feb. 16, with more information and resources that will explain the developing situation as well as outages, extended outages, and ERCOT-directed service interruptions.
PEC recommends that members who have been without power for an extended period of time and have special needs make accommodations until crews are able to fix the problems. They also direct members to report outages at outages.pec.coop.