CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When the deep freeze descended upon Texas in February, rolling blackouts were needed to prevent a statewide failure of the power grid.
It left lots of people, including many in the Coastal Bend, without power for days as the temperature in their homes plummeted.
Earlier this summer, ERCOT -- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the group in charge of the grid -- urged Texans to conserve electricity, warning that a similar situation was possible as the demand peaked with the increasing temperatures.
One Corpus Christi couple, who lost power for four days during the deep freeze, was determined to keep that from happening again at their home.
“It was terrible," Miriam Leavell said. "I really don’t wish that on anybody, and in the heat it’s going to be just as terrible."
The solution she and her husband Gordon came up with was installing a solar power system at their home.
They hired Solar Power Integrator, a local company, to install dozens of solar panels to the roof on the backside of their home, so as not to be seen from the street.
They provide all the power the Leavell's home needs while the sun's shining.
At night, the system has batteries that the panels charge during the day.
“If the electricity goes off again, we won’t worry," Gordon Leavell said. "So we’re very happy. We’re very happy that this is done."
The Leavells are certainly not Solar Power Integrator's only customers.
“We got slammed by phone calls,” owner Gianluca Ferrario said of the days following the deep freeze.
Once they get it in stock, his crews will install a generator at the Leavell's home completing the system and enabling the couple to go off the power grid if they want to.
They'll pay around $250 per month for the system, which they say is about the same as their electric bill but without the fear of losing electrical service.
“I really believe in this technology, and I have it in my house," Ferrario said. "All my customers are really happy. In my opinion, this is the way to go for the future."
If there are power outages this summer, the Leavells plan to share their solar power.
A neighbor whose home has a generator allowed them to spend time there during February's blackout, and the couple says they'll return the favor if need be.
"If the power goes out this summer, people will not survive it in this heat," Miriam Leavell said. "So we are going to be here, and we have an open house for people in our neighborhood to come and sit here."