Reliability

Addressing our members’ questions

Read our FAQs

Below you will find a list of straightforward answers to questions we have received during the winter storm event.

We will continue to update these frequently asked questions, so please check back for the latest information along with our social media channels.

Para nuestras preguntas más frecuentes en español haga clic.

start of questions

Billing and Rates

  1. What is PEC’s financial health following the winter storm event?
  2. Is Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) following the emergency order issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to suspend electric disconnections for non-payment and late fees?
  3. I heard the Governor suspended all customer bills based on estimated billing for this winter event. Does PEC estimate my electric bills? Will you for this winter event?
  4. Why doesn’t my SmartHub account usage data match my PEC billed usage?
  5. I’ve seen pictures of bills posted that reached thousands of dollars for the winter storm period. Is my bill going to go up for that week?
  6. Winter weather negatively impacted my home (or business). What if I can’t pay my bill?
  7. Will my next bill be higher because rates went up due to this event?
  8. Why do I see Kilowatt hour usage (power use) in SmartHub when my electricity was out?

Service Interruptions

  1. I don’t understand why we had rotating service interruptions. What happened?
  2. How do these rotating service interruptions work?
  3. What is a distribution “feeder” and how big are they?
  4. So the whole feeder is turned off during a service interruption? Why can’t PEC turn off smaller groups of meters?
  5. The rotating interruptions didn’t seem to be applied fairly. My street was interrupted several times, but the street next to our neighborhood was not interrupted at all. Also, I saw street lights and stadium-type lights that were on. Why did this happen?
  6. I heard that rotating service interruptions were supposed to be 20-40 minutes in length. The rotating power was out for an extended period of time. Why did this happen?

General

  1. Why does PEC belong to ERCOT?
  2. Why did you remove your outage map?
  3. Did you stop reporting outages because you didn’t want the public to know?
  4. We did not have adequate outage communication when the winter storm began to move through the Hill Country. What happened?
  5. I’ve been out of power for hours and don’t know when my power will be turned on. What do I do?
  6. 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?

Community Resources

  1. We are cold and hungry. What are we supposed to do?

Updated March 1, 2021 5:55 p.m.

Billing and Rates

1. What is PEC’s financial health following the winter storm event?
The financial health of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) remains strong and stable despite the recent winter weather event. Although we are still examining the storm’s impact on the cooperative, we remain confident PEC will provide rates and power supply agreements that can help protect our members from the volatility in the wholesale market.

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2. Is Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) following the emergency order issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to suspend electric disconnections for non-payment and late fees?
Although the PUCT does not regulate PEC’s electric retail operations, PEC is following the emergency order issued by the PUCT for the extreme winter weather event as it relates to electrical disconnects for non-payment as well as not charging late fees.

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3. I heard the Governor suspended all customer bills based on estimated billing for this winter event. Does PEC estimate my electric bills? Will you for this winter event?
PEC bills our members for actual usage of electricity. In the rare occasion when PEC does not have actual usage information, a bill may be estimated based on that member’s prior usage. The usage period from this winter event will not be utilized for any February 2021 bill estimate.

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4. Why doesn’t my SmartHub account usage data match my PEC billed usage?
SmartHub is designed to be a tool to help members manage their monthly consumption. The system we use provides daily readings in SmartHub and is separate from PEC’s billing system. When the SmartHub system is unable to capture energy consumption, it estimates usage based on previous usage. Because of the winter storm event, estimates in My Usage in SmartHub could be inaccurate. PEC bills our members for actual usage of electricity.

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5. I’ve seen pictures of bills posted that reached thousands of dollars for the winter storm period. Is my bill going to go up for that week?
The rate for your base power (per Kilowatt hour) during this weather event will not change. Any variations in your bill will be due to the amount of energy actually consumed. Keep in mind, heating your home during cold weather can cause higher than normal energy consumption.
Securing competitive rates for our members is a point of pride at PEC. Rates are publicly available in PEC’s Tariff and Business Rules. Should there be rate changes due to impacts from the extreme winter event, members would be provided advance notice. Consistent with our mission, PEC aims for low-cost energy for the membership, and any rate changes will be transparent.

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6. Winter weather negatively impacted my home (or business). What if I can’t pay my bill?
Contact PEC member services at 888-554-4732 to discuss options that may be available for you.

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7.  Will my next bill be higher because rates went up due to this event?
The rate for your base power (per Kilowatt hour) during this weather event will not change; however, any variations in your bill will be due to the amount of energy consumed. Keep in mind, heating your home during cold weather can cause higher than normal energy consumption.

Securing competitive rates for our members is a point of pride at PEC. Rates are publicly available in PEC’s Tariff and Business Rules. Should there be rate changes, members are provided advance notice. It is not clear yet what impact the storm will have on the ultimate price of power longer term; however, consistent with our mission, PEC aims for low-cost energy for the membership, and any rate changes will be transparent.

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8. Why do I see Kilowatt hour usage (power use) in SmartHub when my electricity was out?
PEC’s system retrieves information from your meter at regular intervals, and those daily readings can be seen in SmartHub under the My Usage tab. During a power interruption, those readings may not be available, and the system estimates your daily usage, which can produce imprecise results in SmartHub. The system we use provides daily readings in SmartHub and is separate from PEC’s billing system, and may be different than the actual usage you will see on your bill. The billing system registers only the total actual Kilowatt hour used at your meter at the end of your billing cycle, which is consistent with actual Kilowatt hour used at your meter.

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Service Interruptions

1.  I don’t understand why we had rotating service interruptions. What happened?
Like other electric utilities across Texas, PEC had to comply with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s (ERCOT) directive to implement service interruptions to ensure stability across the entire statewide grid. ERCOT is the grid operator for most of Texas, and it is ERCOT’s responsibility to keep the grid stable so that a total loss of power on the grid will not occur.

When the demand for electricity on the ERCOT grid is greater than the supply of generated electricity, like it is now with the icy winter weather, ERCOT requires all electric utilities under its purview to lower the demand on their systems in a controlled way. One way to lower demand is to conserve electricity. Your efforts are greatly appreciated! But when demand cannot be reduced enough through conservation and other measures and power generation is limited, ERCOT can require utilities to reduce demand by using rotating controlled service interruptions. That’s what has happened during this winter storm.

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2. How do these rotating service interruptions work?
When demand cannot be reduced enough through conservation and other measures, ERCOT may require that utilities reduce demand on their systems by using rotating controlled service interruptions. ERCOT directs utilities like PEC on how many megawatts it must take off the system. PEC then reviews its distribution feeders and coordinates to achieve that directive.

  • PEC performs required demand reductions by interrupting service to different distribution feeders across PEC’s system for limited periods of time. This has the effect of turning off electricity to the homes, businesses, and offices on those feeders.
  • PEC “rotates” these interruptions among our members. When power is restored to one set of distribution feeders, PEC then must interrupt service on a different set of feeders to ensure the level of reduced demand required by ERCOT. The rotation keeps the same overall reduced demand on the system.
  • ERCOT can change the amount of the required decrease, up or down, almost instantaneously.
  • The length of the rotations depend on how much demand ERCOT requires PEC to interrupt, and this amount changes up and down as grid conditions change.

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3. What is a distribution “feeder” and how big are they?
A distribution feeder connects the electric lines that deliver power to homes and businesses from a substation, which receives power from the main grid carried through transmission lines powered from generation units. The size of a feeder varies depending on the substation size, but each feeder will typically provide electricity to power 1,500 meters.

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4. So the whole feeder is turned off during a service interruption? Why can’t PEC turn off smaller groups of meters?
Service interruptions must be performed uniformly and remotely in order to be done safely and efficiently. The amount of demand taken off of the PEC system in any given time period must also be a large enough block to comply with ERCOT’s required demand reduction. These larger demand reduction amounts may only be done at the distribution feeder level by PEC. PEC does not have the ability to turn off a limited number of members on a feeder. Because of electrical configurations, there is not another uniform and remote way to interrupt service to decrease required demand by ERCOT on a rotating basis.

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5. The rotating interruptions didn’t seem to be applied fairly. My street was interrupted several times, but the street next to our neighborhood was not interrupted at all. Also, I saw street lights and stadium-type lights that were on. Why did this happen?
When ERCOT issues orders to lower demand on our system, PEC determines the number of feeders necessary to fulfill ERCOT’s orders. All available feeders on the PEC system are included on the list for potential rotating service interruptions, but some feeders may include members on the cooperative’s Critical Load Program registry and rotate as little as possible. That’s because these designated feeders serve critical infrastructure, and critical safety and health operations. These feeders may rotate only when all other feeders are already offline, yet more demand reduction is required of PEC by ERCOT.

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6. I heard that rotating service interruptions were supposed to be 20-40 minutes in length. The rotating power was out for an extended period of time. Why did this happen?
“20-40 minutes” is a standard outage length during a “normal” load shed situation. The severe winter weather required longer outages with more frequency in order to meet the required demand reduction on our system. This can change depending on grid conditions. We did what we could to keep the rotating outages stable for the entire event. Please remember, longer service interruptions happened across the state.

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General

1. Why does PEC belong to ERCOT?
The ERCOT region, which includes the PEC service territory, is set by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and by the Texas Utilities Code. ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 680+ generation units. ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texans, representing approximately 90% of the state’s electric grid, including PEC. For more information on ERCOT please see ercot.com.

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2. Why did you remove your outage map?
When this winter event began and ERCOT ordered rotating service interruptions, members reported outages caused by both the ERCOT service interruptions as well as outages caused by the winter weather. This caused an extremely large increase in reported outages. The overwhelming outage increase along with the different types of outages resulted in an inaccurate map.

We removed the outage map so that we could provide our members with timely and accurate information by email, PEC’s website, and social media.

The outage map is back up, and we believe it will provide more accurate information despite potential rotating service interruptions. If you have an outage, please report that outage by calling us at 888-883-3379 or via pec.smarthub.coop.

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3. Did you stop reporting outages because you didn’t want the public to know?
PEC is committed to providing timely and accurate information to our members. PEC removed the outage map because the information was confusing and incomplete. PEC is working around the clock to safely restore outages. We apologize for the loss of the outage map and the concern or confusion this has caused—it was not intentional. Like so many businesses in Texas, PEC’s systems were harmed by the extreme winter weather. We will continue to work non-stop to return those systems to normal operations.

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4. We did not have adequate outage communication when the winter storm began to move through the Hill Country. What happened?
Along with many other homes and businesses, PEC also lost internet services, phone service, SmartHub functionality, and the ability for employees to access our network. Even though PEC maintains redundant systems and operations outside our service territory in hardened facilities, the winter storm adversely affected even those hardened facilities. These disruptions severely limited the Cooperative’s ability to respond as we typically would. We have been working diligently non-stop to return all of our systems to normal operations.

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5. I’ve been out of power for hours and don’t know when my power will be turned on. What do I do?
First, report your outage by calling us at 888-883-3379 or via pec.smarthub.coop. Our lineworkers and other PEC employees are working diligently around-the-clock to safely make restorations as quickly as possible. Our ability to restore power is hampered by the extreme temperatures and icy winter weather across the Hill Country. Temperatures falling below freezing are creating hazardous conditions, particularly at night.

Additionally, if you have a power outage, check your main breakers. We have had members whose loss of power was due to their breakers tripping off. For instructions on how to safely do so, see this page.

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6. 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?
ERCOT requires utilities like PEC to reduce a specific amount of load from their system. Because we must carefully balance load across our entire system, crews must wait for an order from our control center telling them it is safe to restore power to a subdivision, neighborhood, or business.

When we re-energized a line, we had to reduce demand from another portion of our system to ensure we stayed under or within the reductions required by ERCOT. This controlled restoration process helped to maintain grid stability. Electric utilities across Texas are faced this same challenge.

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Community Resources

1. We are cold and hungry. What are we supposed to do?
We have a list of community resources that can help members in need through this difficult period. You can find that list here.

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