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Ice buildup could cause power outages; who to call

ice on power line

Texas officials believe the state’s power grid is up to the challenge of this week’s winter weather, but caution that icy buildup on trees and power lines could lead to some outages. Highland Lakes residents affected by power outages should report them to their electricity provider by phone or over the internet. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Anyone experiencing a power outage during the current winter storm should report it as soon as possible, said officials for the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the Central Texas Electric Cooperative, and the city of Burnet.

PEC customers can report outages through the cooperative’s outage webpage or by calling 888-883-3379.

CTEC customers can report issues through its SmartHub page or by calling 1-800-900-2832.

Customers of both cooperatives can also follow the PEC or CTEC Facebook pages for updates and more information.

City of Burnet utility customers can call 512-756-6093 during regular business hours or 830-798-4775 after 5 p.m. or on weekends.

Winter Storm Landon could usher in historic ice accumulation affecting roads, trees, and power lines, according to the National Weather Service. The Highland Lakes could get up to a quarter-inch of ice with isolated spots of a half-inch. Typical Central Texas ice storms bring much less.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reported that “the electric grid will be reliable and there will be enough power supply to meet demand.” In February 2021, a five-day snow and ice storm shut down much of the state and left millions without power.

In regard to electricity demands, ERCOT has issued a winter weather watch through Sunday, Feb. 6. This is not the same as a National Weather Service alert, which is currently a winter weather warning expected to last until 9 p.m. Thursday.

“ERCOT is using all the tools available to manage the grid effectively during this winter weather,“ stated interim CEO Brad Jones in a media release. “We will continue coordinating closely with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Public Utility Commission, the Railroad Commission, and elected officials — as well as electric generators and transmission and distribution utilities — to keep Texans informed throughout the week.”

Even with enough electricity available through the grid, some residents might experience power outages due to the weather. Ice buildup on trees and power lines could lead to downed lines or other power disruptions. These will likely be more isolated than the February 2021 rolling outages.

PEC and CTEC recommend people take steps prior to electricity disruptions to be prepared. Tips include making sure you have extra batteries on hand as well as flashlights, charging your cell phone and similar electronic devices, filling a bathtub with water, monitoring weather reports, and staying off the roads as much as possible.

For residents who don’t have a good heating system, officials urge them not to use their stove or oven for heat, which can produce carbon monoxide. Electric heaters should be carefully monitored as they can become a fire hazard.

Visit the PEC Winter Preparedness or the CTEC Prepare for Outages webpages for more tips and information.