Helping Texas residents with ideas on what to do in case of a power outage.
Extreme Weather Can Bring Power Outages
Power Outage Uncertainty
Now that the weather is changing in Texas, extreme weather is approaching. Yes, we know some thunderstorms will hit, however, we will never know how strong or how bad the heavy rain will hit the area. Many times, we hear the warnings, and nothing really happens. It’s important to have a plan and play it safe other than be sorry. There are many things we can do to keep our family safe in case of an emergency.
The Utilities Role Vs. The Energy Companies Role
There is a big difference between a utility and an energy company. In Texas, we have a deregulated energy market, which means that the electricity can be retailed so the utility is not the same as the one that charges you for your electricity usage. The utility sends the meter read of KW used to the energy company, then the energy company sends the bill to the customer. In some Texas areas, the electricity is managed by a cooperative, in this case, the electricity is delivered and charged by the same entity. In the deregulated areas, the energy company has nothing to do with a power outage. They can’t control or send someone to fix a blown transformer or a loose cable. The utility is responsible for that. In the case that an electric meter has a block, switch hold, or is de-energized, the utility will have the control to fix it.
In other words, if you live in a deregulated area, you can choose your electricity supplier. The REP (retail electric provider) will sell you the kilowatts you are using. The REPs buy kilowatts in bulk at the wholesale market to supply its existing customers and new customers. They are the ones who send the bills to collect all electricity charges. These bills state the following: consumption, energy charges, utility charges, and taxes.
The utility delivers the power to your home or business and will be responsible to oversee the REPs' billing process to make sure they comply with regulations and rules, maintain the poles, cables, transformers, meter reads, deliver the electricity until the electric meter, etc.
Who to Call in Case of a Power Outage in Texas?
Now that we established the role of each entity, we can have an idea of who will be able to help in case of a power outage.
For deregulated Texas utilities by areas
Oncor, Dallas/Fort Worth: 1-888-313-4747
Centerpoint, Houston: 1-800-332-7143
AEP Central and AEP North, South Texas/The Valley: 1-866-223-8508
TNMP (Texas New Mexico Power): 1-888-866-7456
Please see the next image with the areas served per utility.
If you live in an area where the electricity is managed by a cooperative, when a power outage occurs, you must call the cooperative. The cooperative’s phone number should be on your electricity bill.
Texas Utilities by Areas
Essentials for a Power Outage
Maybe you don’t notice but we experience power outages often. We don’t know about that power outage because was for a fraction of a second. However, with extreme weather, we may encounter long periods of time without power. We will never know when or for how long those power outages may last. As I started this article, it’s always good to be prepared for the worst. This may make you feel calm and less stressed knowing you have what is needed.
Flashlights for each member of the family
Portable cell phone charger or power bank
Battery operated radio
Candles and matches
A thermometer in the refrigerator
On a personal note, I have this gadget that I like a lot. It works as a radio, flashlight, and power bank. It’s an Emergency Hand Crank/Solar Self Powered AM/FM NOAA Radio with LED Flashlight. I found it online for about $20. I think this is a great gadget and every family member should have one. We use it for camping and when we are in the backyard.
Essentials for a Power Outage
Are You Ready for a Power Outage?
To conclude. I think is important to have the emergency numbers handy, the essentials kit in good condition, and most importantly, keep calm. There is nothing we can do to rush the power to come back. Calling the utilities, it’s a waste of time unless you are part of the problem. Have your plan ready and check with your neighbors if they need assistance. Very important, some of you may ask, why do we need a thermostat in the fridge? This is to make sure your frozen foods are at a good temperature in case the blackout is longer than expected.
I hope this article helps you to keep calm and take care of your loved ones.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Gabriel Cueto