EPE learns lessons from 2011 winter storm to avoid power outages like rest of Texas

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As the borderland continues to defrost, El Paso Electric (EPE) said there were fewer El Pasoans who dealt with power outages due to the freeze compared to other Texas cities.

Many El Pasoans remember the freeze that hit El Paso 10 years ago, which was a much different situation when it comes to electricity. EPE said this time around, it was more prepared and had more resources to minimize the impact of the winter storm.

“I think one of the lessons from the freeze 10 years ago was to have more preparedness. Obviously an eye for new generation that would be able to withstand this type of crisis and sustain extreme weather,” Eddie Gutierrez, spokesperson with El Paso Electric said.

After taking notes from 2011, EPE said it was well prepared in response to this year’s February winter storm by having extra crews on standby, better anti-freeze protection, and new generation.

“Yesterday for example, only 875 customers were impacted by an outage of less than 5 minutes. We had less than 3,000 people that were impacted between today and this morning. This morning I saw as little as 12 customers,” Gutierrez mentioned.

Other cities in Texas were not so lucky. One Houstonian who is from El Paso said she woke up with no electricity at 7 a.m. and her thermostat sat at 56 degrees for multiple hours.

Lilian Guerrero’s thermostat

“Everything in my apartment is electric so nothing is functioning in my apartment, including obviously the heater. It’s about 56 degrees in my apartment so it’s just been miserably cold,” said Lilian Guerrero.

“When you see that in comparison to the rest of the state where 90% of the state has disruption in their electrical load, outages ranging from 40 minutes to all day, now with our conservation efforts you can see that one of the lessons that we’re learning certainly from our lessons from the freeze,” Gutierrez shared.

Guerrero said she believes the city of Houston was not prepared to handle the freeze, and there’s only so much she can do before the power eventually turns back on.

“The temperatures are dropping into the teens in the evenings and at night. My home is already cold so it’s just going to get colder,” Guerrero said, “I mean just bundling up, put extra covers and things like that but I can’t turn on my stove. It’s not a gas stove, there’s nothing else that’s going to help me keep my place warm. It’s going to be tough.”

“It is difficult. No one likes it when you have an outage. We did obviously have some customers that were impacted but it was minimal when you compare to the rest of the state and country that’s facing something really dire. For us, it’s really a story about geography, preparing for new and better technology and new generation,” Gutierrez said.

Looking ahead, EPE said it’s going to continue preparing for future weather crisis’ such as looking for more forms of generation between natural gas, battery, and solar.

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