Explanation From BTU & College Station Utilities About Why Some Electric Customers Have Multiple Outages And Others Have None

Texas electric utilities, including BTU (Bryan Texas Utilities) and College Station Utilities (CSU), were ordered by the statewide electric grid operator ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) early Monday morning to conduct rolling power outages.

One of the two questions about the rolling blackouts that we are getting from WTAW listeners is will the rolling blackouts end. ERCOT projects they will continue through Tuesday. ERCOT also reported as of Monday at four p.m. that restoration efforts are underway to return power to serve 500,000 households.

The other question is “why has my neighborhood had multiple outages and others have had no outages.” BTU general manager Gary Miller and the director of College Station’s electric utility, Timothy Crabb, say part of the reason is meeting an ERCOT requirement of identifying which feeder lines will not be turned off during rolling blackouts.

Miller and Crabb also say there are some critical load feeders that are not turned off.

Miller says most of BTU’s repair activity and Crabb says all of CSU’s calls have been associated with the rolling blackouts.

Miller says 45 BTU linemen have been joined by six crews from private contractors. Most of BTU’s calls have also been associated with the rolling blackout.

BTU energy accounts manager Ken Dupre again asks customers to wait 20 minutes after power is restored before turning on furnaces and other appliances.

CSU customers, most who do not have smartmeters, are instructed to report power outages lasting longer than 15 minutes to call 855-528-4278 so a crew can investigate. CSU was ordered by ERCOT to drop about a third of its usual electric load.

BTU customers do not have to report outages because they have smartmeters. BTU advises repair crews are sent when customers have been without power for more than one hour. Those crews are dispatched as they are available, and response times are being affected by hazardous road conditions.

Click below for comments from Gary Miller, Timothy Crabb, and Ken Dupre, all visiting with WTAW’s Bill Oliver.

Listen to “BTU general manager Gary Miller visits about rolling power outages” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Director of College Station electric utilities Timothy Crabb visits about rolling power outages” on Spreaker.

Listen to “BTU's Ken Dupre again asks those caught in power outages to turn off furnaces and other appliances” on Spreaker.

Statement from College Station Utilities:

ERCOT (the Electric Reliability Council of Texas) continues to mandate that College Station Utilities drop about a third of its usual electric load in order to do our part to sustain the state’s power grid. Doing so via rolling outages will continue as long as ERCOT deems conditions to be a statewide emergency.

If you are experiencing a power outage in excess of 15 minutes, please report it at 855.528.4278 so a crew can look into the issue.

All of us are urged to continue lowering thermostats and turning off any unneeded lights and appliances.

News release from BTU:

Due to strain on the electric grid caused by extremely cold weather, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has issued an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 (EEA-3), instructing electric utilities throughout the state, including BTU, to begin instituting rolling outages to help rebalance the electric grid.

Rolling outages are temporary interruptions to electric service that can last anywhere from 10-45 minutes per neighborhood and are made necessary due to an imbalance between electric load and available generation resulting from the cold weather.

“It is very important that all utilities participate in helping reduce strain on the electric grid, and at this time ERCOT has determined that this can only be accomplished by shedding load from the system,” said BTU’s General Manager, Gary Miller. “BTU’s primary concern is the safety and well-being of our customers, and while these outages are certainly not ideal, they are in the best interest of our service territory and the integrity of the Texas electric system as a whole.”

During this period of rolling blackouts, customers are urged to reduce their electric load to the smallest amount possible, by turning off all unnecessary lighting, appliances, and electronic equipment. Additionally, businesses should avoid starting equipment that utilizes a large amount of electricity, and postpone any non-essential production processes.

Customers who are currently experiencing a power outage need to turn off electric heating units, furnaces, and appliances in their homes and businesses, to assist in BTU’s efforts to restore power as safely and quickly as possible. Once power is restored, customers are asked to wait 15-30 minutes before turning electric devices back on in order to avoid undue stress on the electric facilities in the area.
BTU reminds customers that blacked out traffic signals should be treated as stop signs, and to use extreme caution when traveling during these outages.

Customers are encouraged to monitor television and radio, and BTU’s website for more information. Updates will also be posted on www.btutilities.com, Facebook (@BryanTexasUtilities), and Twitter (@BTU_BryanTX).

Statement from BTU social media sent Monday morning, February 15 2021:

The extreme weather has caused widespread outages in the BTU service area. If your power has been out for more than one hour, it is a weather-related outage and crews will be dispatched as they are available. Response times are being affected by the hazardous road conditions.