DETEC: Co-Op sustained as much damage as during a hurricane

DETEC: Co-Op sustained as much damage as during a hurricane
DETEC (Source: DETEC)

Updated 4:25 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17

SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas - Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative (DETEC) reported it is currently reporting approximately 22,000 meters without power, about 50 percent of the DETEC system.

All outages now are due to ice accumulation. Half an inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds to a power line, and damage can begin when accumulations exceed a quarter of an inch. Additional weight can be applied if a tree branch breaks off and rests on it, increasing the potential for the power line to come down. Rolling blackouts and load issues are no longer the primary issues as much damage to the system has occurred now.

“Crews are fighting a losing battle trying to restore power in the current conditions, but they continue to work to the best of their ability. We will have crews work until dark today as the road conditions will deteriorate as the temperature drops,” said DETEC Director of Communications Brittney Ford said in a statement. “In full transparency we have as much damage, if not more, as we did from prior hurricanes. At this time, we estimate that power restoration may take up to 3 weeks to complete. Due to the amount of outage calls coming in, our phone system has been unable to keep up. We are aware of these issues and have escalated this concern to the appropriate channels. We hope to have this issue resolved soon.”

DETEC customers dependent upon electricity for medical needs are urged to seek an alternate location. Call 911 for medical emergencies, do not wait it out for the power to be restored.

“We know what you are going through because the employees of your co-op and their families are going through this with you. As always, we will work as quickly and as safely as possible,” Ford said. “Together, we will overcome yet another blow that Mother Nature has issued us. Please check on our neighbors, especially the elderly and those with children.”

AUSTIN, Texas - ERCOT announced it has restored power to roughly 700,000 households overnight, however an anticipated cold front this evening could complicate matters by increasing demand.

“We know millions of people are suffering,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. “We have no other priority than getting them electricity. No other priority.”

However, some of that was lost when the Midwest went into a power emergency of their own, and ERCOT was no longer able to import approximately 600 MW.

As of 9 a.m., ERCOT is instructing local utilities to shed 14,000 MW of load representing around 2.8 million households.

“Although we’ve reconnected more consumers back to the grid, the aggregate energy consumption of customers (those recently turned back on and those already on) is actually lower this morning compared to yesterday because it’s less cold,” said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. “However, we are anticipating another cold front this evening which could increase the demand.”

“The ability to restore more power is contingent on more generation coming back online,” said Woodfin. Since the winter storm began on Monday, approximately 185 generating units have tripped offline for one reason or another. Some factors include frozen wind turbines, limited gas supplies, low gas pressure and frozen instrumentation.

As of 9 a.m., approximately 46,000 MW of generation has been forced off the system during this extreme winter weather event. Of that, 28,000 MW is thermal and 18,000 MW is wind and solar.

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - ONCOR issued a new statement today informing customers that a lack of available generation has necessitated the continuation of controlled outages.

“Due to lowered power demand overnight, Oncor and other utilities were able to restore some of the previously dropped power load and increase our capability to rotate some outages throughout the territory. Even with this increased capability, we still have many customers who continue to experience extended outages,” the statement said. “We continue to strive toward providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest as soon as enough generation is available. However, as we saw yesterday, low temperatures of the early morning and increased power demand may result in direction from ERCOT to once again reduce additional load. We will continue to take their direction as we focus on ensuring the integrity of the electric grid.”

ONCOR officials also noted that as ice, snow and other wintry mix weather continues to fall and be present, this will further impact the ability of personnel to fully engage in restoration efforts.

“These personnel are well experienced in working in extreme weather conditions and will be working around the clock to assess damages, clear debris and repair damaged equipment,” the statement said.

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