Thursday, September 29

OF POWER OUTAGES AND ROLLING BLACKOUTS

The greater Houston area's Local 2 News, whose website is "Click2Houston.com," is reporting that power outages continue in their viewing area and will likely persist for another couple of weeks. That's bad news for thousands of homeowners and business people whose lives have been disrupted by Rita.

Meanwhile, the rolling blackouts, which this blogger and his wife have been experiencing firsthand, should be over and done by the weekend. Yesterday's blackouts here in the Lake Conroe area were by far the worst to date. Power at our home went off around 12:00 noon and, except for coming back up for frustratingly short periods of 10 to 15 minutes or so several times mid-afternoon and early evening, was not restored until approximately 10:00pm CDT last night. Yesterday was blazingly hot -- over 100 degrees -- and the house heated up and became very toasty.

What's particularly annoying is that the blackouts are not scheduled, so they cannot be anticipated. Moreover, there's been a complete lack of direct communication from the utility company, which in our case is Entergy. The media was told by Entergy spokespeople that the blackouts would last for approximately an hour, but that's anything but true and truth (or something approximating it) is what customers expect and deserve. I don't know how the elderly are coping through this and especially those with special needs. And it must be difficult for the schoolchildren to concentrate in classrooms without benefit of air-conditioning during what has been a record-setting heat wave in September here in southeastern Texas.

Robert Stanton of the "Houston Chronicle" (registration required for online edition) reports the following in this morning's edition, painting a grimmer picture than the Local 2 News report:

The blame for the misery can be placed squarely in the lap of Hurricane Rita, which ripped through the region over the weekend. High winds sent trees into power lines, cutting power to thousands of residents.

"We have never suffered a crisis as bad as this one," said Entergy-Texas spokesman Mike Rodgers. "This is the worst thing that has happened to the Entergy-Texas system."

Rodgers said Entergy customers can expect three to four weeks without power.


Stanton continues:

As of midweek, about 370,000 homes and businesses in Texas were without electricity. The numbers included 254,000 customers of Entergy-Texas and another 70,000 customers of CenterPoint, which serves much of the greater Houston area.

Entergy-Texas dispatched 10,000 linemen, tree trimmers and support personnel from as far north as Ohio and as far east as the Carolinas, also part of a mutual aid agreement.

"We're making progress, but we're severely hampered by the serious damage to our transmission system," Rodgers said. "No transmission ties are functioning between the eastern half of our service territory, Beaumont and Port Arthur, and the western half, Conroe and The Woodlands.

"We're still getting our distribution lines restored, but we need the transmission lines to bring the power in to the distribution lines (along public streets)," he said.

Complicating matters, many returning residents are cranking up air conditioners in the near-record heat, taxing an already strained system, he said.

To prevent a total blackout, Entergy-Texas has implemented rolling outages for about 142,000 customers in Montgomery, Grimes, Walker and Liberty counties, Rodgers said.

The rolling outages were initially supposed to last an hour, but now they're lasting several hours.

"We regret that (longer outages)," Rodgers said. "We're sorry because we know how miserable that makes people.


The "several hours" claim is bogus, I assure you. And that's the very thing that has Entergy's customers in an uproar. The information being given the media is inconsistent and departs, oftentimes in wholesale fashion, from reality. We went about 10 hours without electricity yesterday here in our portion of Montgomery County!

So, I don't know if blogging today will be light owing to ongoing power disruptions. I trust readers of ACSOL will understand.