Entering what was expected to be one more night (Monday) of bitterly cold temperatures, most Aransas County residents braced for a final night with no electricity.
Many residents lost power early Monday morning. Some got their power back Monday, while many remained without power until Tuesday. AEP-Texas reported late Monday some customers might not get their power back until Wednesday, or even later.
With a harsh night ahead, emergency shelters were opened Monday evening at the Fulton and Lamar volunteer fire departments.
The National Weather Service – Corpus Christi warned of record-breaking temperatures plummeting into teens and lower 20s that night.
AEP-Texas announced late Monday it was awaiting the full go-ahead from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) before restoring power to all customers whose service had been interrupted.
ERCOT instructed electric utilities to interrupt power early Monday morning and anticipated continuing the controlled outages through Tuesday.
AEP noted circuit loading due to the length of time customers had been without power could result in some customer groups not having their service restored before Wednesday or later.
ERCOT then instructed AEP Texas and other electric utilities to increase the number of service interruptions in addition to the existing interruptions that began early Monday morning.
The total number of outages for AEP Texas, as of 9:30 p.m. Monday stood at 441,000, following the additional directive from ERCOT to shed additional load. The number of outages increased from the 367,000 AEP Texas customers who were without power Monday afternoon.
ERCOT projected that utilities would be given the go-ahead on Tuesday to begin full restoration of service.
In the news release, AEP Texas Vice President of Distribution Region Operations Jeff Stracener said, “This is a statewide issue, and all utilities are responding to one of the most widespread and extreme weather events we’ve faced in recent history. ERCOT ordered the controlled outages as a preventive measure to protect the grid from long-term damage and even longer outages than we are currently experiencing. ERCOT, which covers 80 percent of the state, is continuing the controlled outages due to the severity of the situation.”
As ERCOT lifted the controlled outage directive, AEP Texas and other utilities restored service customers and completed any needed repairs.
Stracener’s closing comments Monday were, “We appreciate the patience and support we’ve seen from our customers and communities throughout our entire service territory.
“A winter storm this extreme and widespread throughout the state is very unusual. We will restore power to every one as quickly and safely as we can.”
Traffic, fire issues
Local traffic and fire issues were minimal as of early Monday evening.
Rockport Police Patrol Commander Larry Sinclair said, “We haven’t had any real issues with traffic.
“Everyone’s biggest concern is the electricity situation, with so many facing the coldest night of the year (without electricity).”
Sinclair said he was surprised at the road conditions early Monday when he went to work.
“You had to drive slow, but you could make it,” he said.
He noted Tuesday morning would be a different story in places that didn’t have the opportunity to dry out Monday.
Fulton Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Jackie Mundine said his department had a fairly quiet evening Sunday.
“Saturday night we were called to a fire on Mundine Road,” he said. “It ended up being a fire people built to keep warm.”
He noted after the Copano Causeway was reopened, after being closed for a short while, beginning at about 9 p.m. Sunday, it was still treacherous.
“You had to be driving about 10 mph to make it across,” said Mundine.