As the historic winter storm slammed Texas over the past few days, millions of families went without electricity to stay warm, including many Lamar County families.
“We thought we were supposed to be in a grid but we weren’t,” said Mrs. Parr. “We went a whole day (20+ hours) without electricity. That was the first day and then they said we would be on the rolling blackouts but we weren’t. It was off for 13 hours yesterday before it came back on.”
Mr. and Mrs. Parr, 82-years old and 73-years old, live near Campbell’s Soup and McCoy’s and said both those businesses never lost power but they did.
“Our neighbors had electricity and offered us to come to their home but we could never get an answer as to why we went so long without power.”
With no electricity to stay warm or cook, the Parrs stayed warm by a wood-burning fireplace, ate sandwiches, and bundled up at night.
“At night we slept under four blankets to stay warm,” said Mrs. Parr. “Last night (Wednesday) at about 11 p.m. I heard a noise and my hot water line to our washer burst. So, I spent this morning cleaning up water.”
Whilst the couple and their granddaughter called Oncor dozens of times, they never got to talk to a real person until yesterday when they were told their power would be back on within the hour but that never happened.
The couple who has cattle and other animals said the blistering cold conditions outside made it hard to help take care of the animals whilst also trying to stay warm by the fireplace.
“It made it hard because it was so cold outside and I couldn’t do anything to help anyone else. Thankfully our granddaughter was able to help with the animals,” she said.
As millions across the state of Texas experienced outages similar to the Parrs – others experiencing longer outages – Governor Greg Abbott declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) an emergency item this legislative session.
In declaring this item an emergency, the Governor is calling on the legislature to investigate ERCOT and ensure Texans never again experience power outages on the scale they have seen over the past several days.
“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” said Governor Abbott. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable. Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions. I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again.”
On Thursday, Lamar Electric Cooperative said blackouts may return.
“Will the blackouts return? The short answer is maybe. ERCOT has three EEA (Energy Emergency Alerts) levels and even though rolling blackouts have ended, we remain at EEA3.”
Level one EEA occurs when reserve generating power falls below a specified level.
“This triggers a notification to the public to conserve power and utilities are requested to implement any available load management programs (cycle customer’s hot water heaters, AC units, etc.) such as remote access to customers Nest Thermostats. Commercial customers that are purchasing interruptible power, start having their power interrupted.”
EEA level two simply increases what was done in level one. EEA level three results in a rolling blackout order.
“Since many utilities are still trying to restore power to customers that had been blacked out, the total Texas electric load is uncertain.”
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