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El Paso’s not seeing power outages like the rest of Texas – here’s why

EL PASO, Texas -- Millions of Texans are dealing with rolling power outages after a massive winter storm made it's way though the entire state, but that's not the case here in El Paso.

El Paso is not apart of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a major grid operator that controls about 90% of the state’s electric load. El Paso Electric, which oversee's the electricity from Hatch to Van Horn, said the Borderland is apart of the Western International grid.

ERCOT said the rolling outages they've implemented could continue until the state’s weather emergency ends.

"Here in the El Paso region, in our service territory, we're very proud and happy of our crews that work really hard and you can see that in it's impact," said Eddie Gutierrez, vice president of customer care and communications for El Paso Electric.

According to the electric company, about 3,000 customers had power outages lasting five minutes or less when the winter storm moved in on Sunday.

As of Monday afternoon, only 12 customers were impacted.

El Paso Electric said they always try to prepare for the future and after a winter storm in 2011, the utility company worked towards replacing and upgrading their equipment. Many generators now have antifreeze protection.

"We went from plus-10 degrees which was what the original equipment  was designed for to a minus-10, so currently everything we install or upgrade is done to a minus-10 degree sustained temperature," said Louie Guarderrama, director of operations for the utility company.

The company's plant in far east El Paso is also another addition that has become a vital part of their operations.

"Some of the new units really came to save the day. But it's also all the hard working people that have worked behind the scenes to make this happen," Gutierrez said.

Across Texas, the demand for electricity is high which is a big reason why the rest of the state is currently overwhelmed.

Here in El Paso, El Paso Electric said even though more people are working from home and using electricity, the peak usage on Sunday of 1,130 megawatts when the storm hit compared to a peak of 1,133 megawatts last February is fairly similar.

In case of a power outage in your home, here are some tips you can follow according to El Paso Electric:

  • Keep doors and windows shut to maintain warmth inside; closing blinds and curtains can also help
    • Extra layer of insulation on windows can help, like a plastic-lining 
  • Move tables, chairs, sofas away from windows and outer walls of house
  • Always layer your clothing (with or without an outage), as you can moderate your body temperature a lot more effectively than your entire house’s temperature; including wearing a hat!
  • If you have a wood-burning fireplace, always make sure to close the damper once you put out the fire to keep the warm air from escaping through the chimney
  • Unplug all sensitive electronic equipment like TVs, computers to avoid voltage irregularities 
  • Never run a gasoline-powered generator inside a house; keep it outside with exhaust facing away the home
  • Never call 9-1-1 when reporting an outage or asking for an update on an outage. Please call EPE at 1-800-592-1634.
Article Topic Follows: El Paso

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Brianna Chavez


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