The Kerrville Public Utility Board provided the following message to customers on Wednesday:
KPUB understands many of our customers have been without power, some for an extended period of time, and the frustration this can cause. Different events have resulted in the majority of these outages.
The statewide grid operator (ERCOT) is still requiring LCRA and KPUB to shed load or rotate outages throughout our service territory. These are state-grid-mandated service interruptions as designed to protect the reliability of the Texas power grid as a whole and prevent an uncontrolled statewide outage.
Customers are experiencing very long rolling outage times throughout this event, statewide. Some customers may experience longer outages if failures occur during the restoration process, and this has been the case with a few of our substations during the event so far.
Can you tell me how long my rolling outage will last and when the power will come back on?
We cannot provide estimated times of restorations & ask for patience as we have thousands of customers without power. That is all controlled through ERCOT and LCRA, and KPUB has no control over the time frame.
Who is ERCOT and what is a load shed event?
ERCOT is responsible for overseeing the Texas electric grid for about 80 percent of the state. Their main job is to ensure the safety and reliability of the electric grid. That means when the amount of electricity generated by power plants does not meet electric demand, or customers' use of electricity, ERCOT directs utility companies like KPUB to interrupt service to prevent damage to the grid.
Why doesn't KPUB generate more electricity?
KPUB does not own or operate any electric generation, and even though KPUB has contracts to supply 100% of our energy requirements, these rolling outages take higher priority because they are preventing a statewide outage. All of our power is supplied through the statewide transmission grid, which ERCOT oversees. KPUB does not have any control over how much power can be generated or supplied during these types of events.
How can KPUB restore power?
As ERCOT reduces the amount of load shed required, the frequency of the rolling outages will decrease until they are eventually suspended. As this happens LCRA and KPUB will have more distribution feeders and substation transformers online without having to take others out. Distribution feeders can provide power to thousands of homes, however, if the initial demand is too high when we try and energize the feeder, the line will not hold, and circuit breakers will trip. Therefore, we advise customers to reduce energy consumption, especially when power is first restored.
Why does it take so long to rotate outages?
In an ideal setting, KPUB would be rotating outages in smaller time windows. However, due to the increased demand for electricity and the unprecedented amount of load being shed, it takes more outages with longer off times and shorter on times. A typical heat strip heater, like most customers have in the homes, will consume about three times more energy than an AC system would during the summertime. This added demand for electricity delays the process of being able to rotate outages in this emergency event. Some customers may experience longer outages if failures occur during the restoration process. Examples of these failures include loss of communications to substations resulting in an inability to turn breakers back on after a rolling outage (Kerrville South Area Monday morning and Harper Road area Wednesday morning) and equipment malfunction (LCRA breaker control failure Sidney Baker North). These types of failures require LCRA and/or KPUB to dispatch personnel to manually restore power. In addition, we also had a relatively small number of local outages caused by overloading and ice. Restoring these outages has been challenging because of the travel and working conditions and rolling outages.
Why do other areas of town have power and I do not?
The rotating outages are happening by substations within our community, staggered, to prevent major outages all at once. They are happening in different areas and at different times within our service area. All substations are subject to emergency events and service interruptions unless they are powering one of our hospitals (Peterson, the VA or the State Hospital), those substations are never interrupted, unless the entire state grid were to lose power. If someone has not experienced a current rotating outage yet, they are powered by a hospital substation or subject to other next-level emergency ERCOT events and additional major state-grid events.
How much longer will the outage or rotating blackouts last?
We cannot provide estimated times of restorations & ask for patience as we have thousands of customers without power. That is all controlled through ERCOT and LCRA, and KPUB has no control over the time frame. LCRA is following its plan to manage the rolling outages but because this is such a fluid situation, that plan is changing on an hour-by-hour basis. We do not know when one of our loads will be shed, we find out after it has happened. Service interruptions will occur throughout the KPUB service territory until ERCOT cancels the Level 3 emergency service interruption orders. This will only happen when energy supplies can keep up with Texas demand. This is a state-grid issue across Texas that is due to a combination of two things: increased demand with extreme weather events and lower power supplies. Some generation units that were offline due to the winter weather have begun to slowly come back online. This will help alleviate some of the stress that is currently being put on generators that are operating. As more electric generation comes online, utilities across Texas will be able to decrease the duration and frequency of the rolling outages.
Why is this only affecting KPUB customers?
Electric consumers all over Texas are experiencing the same situation that KPUB customers are experiencing. At the height of the winter storm, it was reported that over 2.5 million Texans were without power. Every utility that falls under ERCOT is needing to abide by ERCOT's requirements in order to prevent a statewide blackout.
Am I experiencing a real outage?
Customers that have been out of power for over 24 hours (consistently without any temporary restoration in-between, even if it has been a smaller window) could be part of an actual outage. Crews are responding to outage calls, and will not stop throughout this event.
You can report an outage 24/7 by:
Contacting our outage line at 830.257.2883, through SmartHub via the utility's app or online account management, or through text if you are a SmartHub user with a single account and up-to-date contact information by texting the word OUT to our SMS phone #768482.
We will send communications when the rolling outage service interruptions end once ERCOT cancels the event. Thank you all for your patience as Texans and electric utilities across the country are experiencing the same situation.