Rolling Blackouts Still a Possibility in Borderland

Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 5:21pm

SPRINGERVILLE, AZ- The big fire still rages out in Arizona but there's hopeful news.   The winds are not as bad and the fire hasn't reached the power lines that serve us in El Paso.

So that means there's less of a chance that we'll get rolling blackouts here in the borderland.

So far, the Wallow fire in eastern Arizona has ravaged 350-thousand acres.  While it continues to burn, lighter winds have slowed it down.

But those rolling blackouts that we've been telling you about, may still happen.

It will only happen if the flames reach two transmission lines that sit in the fire's path.  So far, both lines are safe.  But if they get destroyed by fire, they take about 40% of El Paso's electricity supply with it.

But if it happens, El Paso Electric says it will buy power from other utility companies.  The company has talked to other power generators, and agreements are in place. 

The power EP Electric buys will make up for power lost if the transmission lines fail.  They also say they're prepared if the transmission lines burn down, with equipment and crews lined up, ready to repair damage. 

And finally, if we're going to have rolling blackouts because of the fire, they want to let the public know early and often that there will be power outtages.

Undoubtedly, the electric company's learned a lesson, after failing to give accurate blackout warnings back in February.  

El Paso Electric wants to stress that the fire is completely unpredictable, so good news today could quickly become bad news tomorrow, including blackouts for El Paso.

Chief Meteorologist Chuck DeBroder has been tracking the Arizona fire during these critical hours.  He says winds may fan the flames closer to power lines.  For his complete forecast, head to the Weather section of our website.

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