PEC understands many of their members have been without power, some for an extended period of time, and the frustration this can cause. Different events have resulted in the majority of these outages.
Like other electric utilities across the state, PEC is complying with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ (ERCOT) directive to implement service interruptions to ensure stability across the entire statewide grid. The demand for electricity on the ERCOT grid is currently greater than the supply of generated electricity. To protect the grid and ensure it remains stable, the demand is lessened in a controlled way. One way to lessen demand is to conserve electricity.
When demand cannot be adequately reduced through conservation and other measures, ERCOT can require that PEC reduce demand by a specific amount:
- The requirement to decrease demand can happen almost instantaneously, and ERCOT can change the amount of the required decrease, up or down, almost instantaneously.
- PEC interrupts service to different feeders across PEC’s system for limited periods of time. This has the effect of turning off electricity to the homes and offices on those feeders.
- PEC “rotates” these interruptions, meaning that when one set of interruptions is restored, PEC will interrupt service on a different set of feeders; this ensures the same amount of load is interrupted each time, therefore keeping the same decreased demand on the system.
In addition to these interruptions, the extreme temperatures and icy winter weather have led to infrastructure damage across our 8,100 square mile service territory. The forecast says the Hill Country is in for another hard freeze overnight. These temperatures have created hazardous road conditions, particularly at night, that prevent PEC crews from restoring infrastructure power outages until conditions improve. PEC lineworkers and other PEC employees have been working diligently around-the-clock to safely make restorations as quickly as possible. They have made progress; however, PEC members are still without power. PEC will continue to work to get everyone restored as quickly as is safely possible.
This combination of factors has made it difficult for PEC to provide the reliable electric service their members have always counted on. Unfortunately, it appears rotating service interruptions will continue until at least mid-day Wednesday at the earliest, or when the icy conditions start to dissipate. They ask members to please bear with them as they work their hardest to restore power and resume normal operations as soon as possible.
If you have an outage, please do not call 911 to report the outage; instead, call PEC directly at 888-883-3379, or visit PEC’s SmartHub at www.pec.smarthub.coop. Members with outages should report them directly to PEC at 888-883-3379, or by visiting PEC’s SmartHub. Find the latest information and updates on PEC’s website, pec.coop.
- My street has been interrupted several times during this event, but the street next to our neighborhood has not been interrupted at all. Why is this happening?
All available feeders on the PEC system are included on the list for rotating service interruptions. When ERCOT issues their orders to lower demand on our system, PEC determines the number of meters necessary to fulfill those orders. The feeders that rotate last on the list are the ones designated for critical care load or present health and safety concerns. Based on available information, PEC updates and maintains this list on a regular basis using the Public Utility Commission’s rules as a guideline.
- I heard that the rotating service interruptions were supposed to be 20-40 minutes in length. My power has been out for an extended period of time. Why is this happening?
“20-40 minutes” is a standard outage during “normal” load shed situations. The extreme situation we find ourselves in is requiring longer outages with more frequency in order to achieve the required demand reduction on our system. We are trying to reduce the length of these outages while continuing to balance the required reductions as directed by ERCOT. PEC members are not the only ones impacted by these longer service interruptions; this is happening to power users across the state, including PEC employees.
- We were out of power in my subdivision and the PEC crew was sitting in their trucks after they finished the repairs, but they didn’t turn the power on for another 20 minutes. Why did that happen?
The crew was waiting for a dispatch order telling them it was clear to restore power to the subdivision. When we add load to the system, such as when we restore a subdivision, other load must be interrupted so that we stay under our required reductions as directed by ERCOT. This controlled restoration process helps maintain grid stability; all other electric utilities across Texas are facing the same situation as PEC.