EL PASO, Texas -- An El Paso Electric official said Saturday the utility understands the frustration of customers after two days of outages amid the worst heat stretch in over a quarter century that left thousands without power during a time of pandemic.
Unfortunately for both customers and work crews, El Paso Electric's Community Engagement Manager George De La Torre said he "expects outages to continue as the heat wave continues." And that means "crews won't stop working until power is restored to all customers."
Due to the extremely high temperatures, which resulted in the National Weather Service issuing an Excessive Heat Warning for El Paso for the first time in almost three decades, there have been approximately 180 outages in the past two days. While some saw their power restored within an hour, a few had their outages last up to 12 hours.
"Summer is our busiest time of year for outages," De La Torre explained, "and sustained extreme hot weather does not allow for equipment to cool overnight. This issue causes a strain on the system." Nighttime temperatures only dropped into the 90s after reaching nearly 110 degrees for the past two days.
In addition to the strain on the utility company's equipment, the excessive heat is also posing a challenge for electrical crews going from one outage scene to another as they try to restore power both quickly and safely.
"We're also dealing with a (coronavirus) pandemic and ensuring the health and safety of our customers and crews," said De La Torre. "This is why we are asking (the crews) to take breaks to avoid heat exhaustion and drink plenty of fluids."
Those crews have been kept busy for two straight-days.
Over 1,000 El Pasoans scattered around the city found themselves without electricity Friday - and thus lacking refrigerated air or other cooling methods. This followed several thousand homes and businesses in portions of west and far east El Paso experiencing similar situations on Thursday.