Cooperative News

How PEC delivers your electricity

Anatomy of the electric grid

Getting electricity to your home and community is a complicated job. PEC delivers electricity to more than 360,000 accounts across 8,100 square miles of the Texas Hill Country — an area nearly the size of New Jersey. Even though we serve more meters than any other U.S. electric cooperative, we remain committed to providing you first class, personalized service. Learn just how PEC delivers electricity at the flip of a switch.

PEC is a nonprofit, electric distribution cooperative, and you are an owner.

Pedernales Electric Cooperative is more than an ordinary utility — we’re a cooperative. This means you’re more than a customer — you’re a member with ownership in the business. Whether it’s through participation in PEC board of directors’ elections or providing input, our members affect PEC’s operations. As a cooperative, we set our rates at the cost of service, which means PEC does not earn profits. Instead, we reinvest revenue in our infrastructure to better serve you, or return it to you, the member-owner.

The Texas transmission grid is operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers — including the entire PEC service territory. It is responsible for maintaining the reliability of the system and facilitating the market in which PEC participates. In rare cases, ERCOT has the authority to mandate utilities to interrupt electric service in order to protect the statewide grid, as it did during the February 2021 Winter Storm.

PEC is a distributor of electricity; not a generator.

We purchase power from wholesale partners like the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), which owns and operates various power plants in Texas. Texas generators produce electricity from a variety of sources, including natural gas, hydro, wind, coal, solar, and more — but PEC is not a power generation company. The vast majority of our power purchases are subject to market conditions.

Power is delivered to your community from generators on the transmission system.

Transmission facilities include poles and large lines that carry high-voltage electricity from the generator to substations. PEC owns 304 miles of transmission lines in its service territory. Across the entire state, there are thousands of miles of transmission lines owned and operated by other utilities that help bring power to our substations.

Transmission systems carry power to PEC substations in your community.

You have probably noticed the fenced or walled yards housing large electric equipment throughout our service territory. These are substations, and they play an integral part in delivering your electricity. They take the high-voltage power created by generators and use a device called a transformer to lower the voltage so it can be safely distributed to you and the rest of the membership.

PEC currently operates 76 substations across its vast service territory, with more on the way to serve continued growth.

Distribution lines carry power from substations to our members.

Power lines — like the ones you may see in your neighborhood — carry 7,200- or 14,400-volt power to members’ homes and businesses, where a smaller transformer will lower the voltage once more before consumption.

We have almost 24,000 miles of distribution line – that’s close to the circumference of the earth! About 82% of this distribution line is overhead and 18% is underground.

When the power goes out, our crews stand ready to restore it.

Serving such a large service territory means we have to rely on a lot of equipment to keep the lights on for our members. We are proud of our reliability practices and, in the case of an outage, PEC has crews standing by to quickly and safely restore power, no matter the time or the weather. But, lineworkers don’t just restore power during outages; with unprecedented year-over-year growth occurring across PEC’s service area, updating and maintaining our facilities is an everyday practice.

Operating an electric system is a sprawling and complicated job, made possible by the hard work and dedication of industry professionals. And while our goal is first and foremost to deliver safe, reliable electricity at a low cost to our members, PEC is not just part of the electric system — we’re part of the community too!