AUSTIN (KXAN) — Oncor Electric Delivery said record heat and electric demand are to blame for increased outages over the weekend.
Spokesperson Kerri Dunn said at one point on Sunday evening, outages numbered about 2,000. She said that’s one snapshot of data, but it’s challenging to provide a total number of outages for the weekend, “as outages were occurring and being addressed throughout the weekend.”
“We were activated and responding to outages as they occurred throughout the weekend so the numbers varied depending on when you looked at the map,” Dunn added.
She also said Oncor provides power to more than 3.8 million meters across their service area, which includes a big chunk of Texas, including parts of Travis and Williamson counties.
KXAN spoke with one family in Taylor on Monday afternoon that was still waiting for their power to come back on.
RJ Barber was spared, while some of his other neighbors were hit. But it’s just the beginning of the summer, and more triple-digit temperatures are expected even this week.
“It’s very concerning not just for the power but what we’re going to lose in [these] economic times,” he said, saying a power outage in this heat might mean throwing out groceries. “Not devastating but it would be hard to lose, financially.”
Barber said his family does their best to conserve power; turning off lights and fans when they’re not in the rooms, and doing laundry later at night, after peak usage hours.
KXAN asked Oncor what they’re doing to prevent future blackouts this summer.
Dunn said they’ve been preparing.
“This weekend’s extreme combination of record-setting hot weather and record usage did put additional stress on some of our equipment, which resulted in increased outages. However, we work hard to ready for summer and hot weather with year-long planning and preparations completed months in advance of the hot season. This includes on-the-ground and in-the-air (by drone or helicopter) inspections of thousands of electrical facilities in order to identify potentially vulnerable equipment and replace it before outages can occur. You can see more on that on our website here.Kerri Dunn, Oncor spokesperson
Dunn also said some weekend outages were not related to heat, and were from things like car accidents or wildlife.
ERCOT, the state’s power grid administrator, experienced its highest-ever power demand Sunday afternoon as temps soared to as high as 105 degrees in the Austin area. However, it still had about 10 GW worth of surplus and could have covered even higher demand.
Other companies’ outages Monday
Thousands of others in Central Texas may have also experienced power outages.
Pedernales Electric Cooperative said 4,000 customers were in the dark for 30 minutes due to line maintenance.
Georgetown Utilities said its outage was due to a contractor hitting a primary underground power line.