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AEP Texas answers questions regarding power restoration

Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 18:36:40-05

The cold weather the past few days has resulted in major electrical blackouts causing issues statewide.

While AEP Texas understands the concerns of Texans, they have said they are just waiting for permission from the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to begin full restoration of power.

In the meantime, they’ve provided some answers to some widely circulated questions. See their answers below. (Questions and answers have been summarized for clarity. For AEP Texas’ full statements, click here.)

How did these mass power outages happen?

AEP said as temperatures began to drop, power plants began to stop producing electricity, even as demand continued to increase. ERCOT then told electric utility companies to cut power to decrease the load on the electric grid. As of now, electricity generated from power plants is currently not meeting the need to safely restore power.

Who is ERCOT?

AEP said ERCOT is like the air traffic controller for electricity for about 80 percent of the state. They prevent damage to the electric grid. So, “when the amount of electricity generated by power plants does not meet the electric demand, or customers’ use of electricity, ERCOT directs utility companies like AEP Texas to interrupt service to prevent damage to the grid and prolonged outages.”

What happened to the rotating outages that were first announced?

In the beginning, AEP said the plan was to take power from one area, and then move to another area, restoring power to the first area the power was taken from. But, because the electricity produced by power plants is not increasing, and demand keeps on increasing, ERCOT keeps directing electric utilities to cut more power.

Why am I not seeing crews and utility trucks in my neighborhood?

AEP said most systems are actually intact, and that these power issues are not because of damage to the system. This is why you don’t see utility trucks, because there is nothing really to fix. This is a controlled outage, and AEP Texas will be able to restore power when ERCOT says it is safe to do so.

Why do some neighbors have power when I don’t?

AEP said the customers with power who may be across the street from you are probably on a different circuit than you.

“Each circuit on the AEP Texas system that delivers power to customers carries a slightly different amount of electricity. When ERCOT directs AEP Texas to drop a certain number of megawatts from its system, we insert that amount into our system and the circuits are selected in an automated system to meet that required amount of load directed by ERCOT to be shed.”

Why can’t you restore power to customers who have gone without power by interrupting service to others who have not yet been impacted?

AEP said they are rotating outages on a limited basis to allow restoration to some customers who have been out of power the longest (ex. early Monday or even before).

These rotations will increase as power generation increases.

AEP Texas says that this mass outage is an unprecedented event. They said they do not own electric generation, so all they can really do is wait for ERCOT to give them the okay to start restoring power.

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