A power struggle ensued in Seguin and across the state following winter weather in the area and caused residents to find ways of dealing with frigid temperatures without heat.

Blown and tripped transformers and fuses along with mandated rolling blackouts caused grief for power customers in the city of Seguin, Deputy City Manager Rick Cortes said Wednesday.

“When it comes to infrastructure calls in the city territory, we’re addressing those as quickly as we can. Typically, it takes about 30 minutes to get to those,” he said. “When it comes to the blackouts, we really have no control over those. Those are dictated by ERCOT and implemented by LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority).”

The Lower Colorado River Authority is a power provider, and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers.

After a wintry mix of precipitation and freezing temperatures hit the state Sunday, demand for power increased tremendously. ERCOT entered into emergency conditions early Monday, as weather conditions sent electricity generators offline, a news release from the council read.

ERCOT called for rotating outages that lasted until Thursday morning, according to an alert posted on the website of area power supplier Guadalupe Valley Energy Cooperative.

“ERCOT’s rotating outage mandate has been lifted, but could resume at any time,” GVEC’s alert read. “It is critical that all with power conserve electricity as much as possible to avoid taxing the statewide grid and resuming rotating outages.”

Comments on social media posts revealed Seguin residents took exception to the blackouts.

Some pointed to lighted areas of town, government buildings and city-owned facilities and cried foul.

City staff heard the complaints and were trying to conserve power as well, Cortes said.

All of the city’s buildings have motion detection lighting, which illuminates if someone moves around them, he said. Other lights needed to be shined for security purposes, Cortes said.

Staff members attempted to cut off as many lights as possible while continuing the jobs they had to do and work needed to ensure safety, he said.

City Manager Steve Parker responded in a social media comment of his own.

“We are aware of the lights being on at various facilities like the water tower, Central Park and the ball fields,” he wrote. “Yes, we know this looks bad and we apologize for how this may have looked. Unfortunately, there just isn’t one switch that turns all of these things off at once.”

Manual processes are necessary in many instances to turn off lights at certain areas of the city, Parker said. He made the decision to send staff where their efforts were better used repairing broken water mains, correcting electric outages and helping to make roads passable, the city manager said.

As things began to calm down, employees turned off lights at places like Park Plaza and the Coliseum, and dimmed ones at the water tower with plans to disconnect them later, Parker said.

“I am very proud of how fast we have responded to electrical outages as the outages on our system have been much less and for shorter durations than other surrounding providers,” he said. “Our team has worked around the clock to make sure we are addressing the city’s needs.”

Parker extended an invitation to anyone who wished to speak with him directly. He said he can be reached via email at sparker@seguintexas.gov for anyone wishing to set up an appointment to talk or bear concerns.

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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(2) comments

JWard

The fascinating part about this story is we are all going to have to pay a premium for electricity we did not use because it was turned off. Not sure that makes much sense, but get ready. It is coming.

Dldmny

Fifty years ago I moved from Wisconsin to Texas as a result of my employment. I have heard Texans brag regarding their warm winters and lack of snowfall. Based upon my experience in Del Rio and Seguin, I can attest to the fact that it does get cold enough to freeze water pipes, and it does occasionally snow. The problem is, Texans never prepare for the worst that can happen. Last week was a perfect example of the overall lack of preparedness. Having lived where sub-zero winter temperature and heavy snowfall are the rule, I have never previously experienced what we endured during the past week. As the Boy Scouts admonish, Be Prepared!

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