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Preparing for another power disaster could be costly for Granite Shoals

Granite Shoals assesses needs for another power disaster

The city of Granite Shoals could buy additional power generators to help provide electricity in case of rolling blackouts, such as the ones experienced during the February winter storm, or other outages. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

After assessing what Old Man Winter threw at the city of Granite Shoals on Feb. 11-18, officials are looking at ways to prepare for his future fits of rage, particularly addressing electricity challenges.

However, the costs for some of the preparations could be close to $1 million.

“Part of the instant command center is to debrief after (the event and) to look at your successes and failures and what caused your failures,” said Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith. 

One failure, which was out of the city’s hands, was not keeping electricity flowing to important infrastructure.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas directed utility companies, including Pedernales Electric Cooperative, to use emergency conservation efforts such as rolling blackouts to protect the state’s electricity grid Feb. 14 after the demand for energy began outgaining the supply. 

The need for backup power in Granite Shoals came to light Feb. 15, when those rolling blackouts led to broken valves at the city’s water tower and left some residents without water for several hours. 

Topping the city’s list for future storm and emergency preparation are several generators to be placed at different city-owned properties, including the water system, City Hall, and the fire and police departments. 

To fully back up the city’s water system, it would take four generators of different sizes, Smith said. Broken down by place and cost, this includes:

  • a 600-amp generator for the water treatment plant at $375,000;
  • a generator for the Blue Briar pump station and another for the raw water pump station totaling $228,000;
  • a generator for the Sherwood Shores III booster station and another for the Sherwood Shores III wells totaling $181,000;
  • and a generator for the Kingswood (Valley View) elevated tank and one for the Kingswood (Kings Circle) ground storage totaling $193,000.

All that adds up to $977,000. 

Another vital need, according to Smith, is having a warming center for people without electricity to shelter in.

Typically, Highland Lakes Elementary School or churches can serve as these centers, Smith said, but those facilities were subject to the rolling blackouts as well.

The ideal location for a warming center, she added, is the Granite Shoals Fire Department because it has a large meeting room, a kitchen, and two bathrooms. The department was using its generator in the bay area to keep the fire apparatus from freezing in case it was needed to respond to an emergency.

Smith said preparing for another winter blast like the February event will takes funds, and in the end, that’s something on which councilors and residents will have the final say.