Update on Power Emergency

Friday, February 19, 2021 – 4:45 p.m. –  Final Update 

The ERCOT emergency has concluded.

No outages specific to the power emergency are under way, although there still may be smaller outages not yet restored that our crews are or will be working. Let us know if you’re affected; please see steps on this morning’s update below.

TNMP appreciates customers’ patience and understanding amid what we know were very frustrating circumstances.

Friday, February 19, 2021 – 9:35 a.m.

ERCOT announced Friday morning that emergency conditions would be cancelled. Moving of the emergency levels back was under way as of this writing.

We still have some customers whose power is out. We're working those outages in the field.

If your power is out and you haven’t called us in the last 24 hours, please:

  1. Check your breakers.
  2. If your breakers check OK, please call us at 888-866-7456 to report a new outage.

It’s been a long week that’s almost done. We appreciate everyone’s understanding as TNMP did its part to help keep the Texas grid stable.

Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 3:20 p.m.

We hope everyone who is out of power or has been for a while is holding up OK. We know it was rough for many customers and still is for plenty, too.

We have four main considerations for you on this update:

  • Rotating outages aren’t currently under way; we hope it stays that way.
  • The ERCOT emergency alert remains at level 3, so we’re still subject to orders to reduce our power load (i.e., take outages).
  • We’re continuing to receive and work outage reports from customers who still are out.
  • Customers who are out, but who haven’t reported it to us since today at 8 a.m., should call 888-866-7456 and report that they’re out. (Please check your breakers first, though.)

Customers who still are out likely were affected by other, “regular” outage causes – particularly weather-related matters. Those outages were difficult to know about or repair so long as the entire lines of which they’re part were taken out due to orders for us to drop load.

(Scroll further down to prior updates for descriptions of what happened when load was dropped and extended controlled outages were taken.)

Our phone system will tell most customers a restoration estimate of Friday at 5 p.m. Our estimates will remain very, very subject to change as we catch up after the last few days.

Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 8:05 a.m.

The situation continued to improve throughout the night, although the energy energy alert status remains EEA 3 (rotating outages).

We know there still are customers out.

If your power is out:

  1. Check your breakers to make sure none have tripped.
  2. If your breakers check OK, call us at 888-866-7456.

The situation for the state's grid does not yet seem to be completely resolved, but additional available power and less severe temperatures seem to have helped quite a bit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 – 7:05 p.m.

The situation has continued to improve gradually today and hopefully that will continue overnight.

(ERCOT press release sent Wednesday evening.)

Many customers still remain off. We understand that you are in very difficult circumstances. There are some positive signs, though.

We have been instructed by ERCOT to restore enough power load that we finally have a breathing room on the system to start rotating outages. That will involve taking out other lines, then restoring some that have been out.

That must be done deliberately and carefully to ensure we can make it stick and keep the system stable.

Recall that when the emergency cascaded in the early hours of Monday, we had to drop so much power load so quickly that we were unable to rotate outages.

We just had to keep turning off more lines and meet certain megawatt levels as quickly as we could to do our part to keep the system stable. By the time that had been done, we had no breathing room to conduct rotations.

We are actively working strategies and solutions to work with the amount of power allocated to us to try to restore customers who have been out for long periods of time and return to a rotation process.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021 – 10:35 a.m.

There continues to be very gradual overall improvement on the grid, according to ERCOT. Over the last 24 hours, TNMP has been instructed to add power load more than we’ve been instructed to drop.

Temperatures creeping up will help, and the overnight snow front didn’t cause us as much trouble as others we’ve experienced.

We understand and respect the frustrations being expressed by most affected customers. What we share with you today and after today probably will sound very repetitive. We wish we could tell you more, but there simply is not much we can know or share about the situation.

We have to do our part to keep the state’s grid stable, of course, and we will continue to carefully restore more customers when we receive instructions from ERCOT to do so.

Our automated phone system will be updated to tell most of you Thursday at 5 p.m. for a restoration estimate. We know that working estimate will change. Please don’t make plans based on it or any information on our outage map.

We encourage anyone in need of assistance to reach out to your local resources, which may involve calling 211, your local government, churches or organizations like the Red Cross. Please call 911 for medical emergencies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 – 5:30 p.m.

Texas now is completing its second day of the power emergency and working into its third overnight. Unfortunately, it seems there’s still a long way to go.

(Let’s not even get into the next snow event moving into North and Central Texas overnight tonight. We’ll come back to that.)

TNMP would like our communities to know that our employees and management remain committed to the dual goal of doing our part to keep the ERCOT electric system stable, along with restoring power to customers as effectively as we can, when we can.

We say this knowing that it neither makes the situation less frustrating for those of you without power, nor will it make your home warmer. We know it's been and continues to be hard. But our staff is extremely focused on what we need to do – when we can – to get your power back on while ensuring that everything that is on remains stable.

The automated phone system that answers our toll-free phone number is reporting to most of you an estimate of Wednesday at 5 p.m. for restoration. That is just a working estimate and we expect it to change. That’s not how we like to do it, but TNMP, as a poles-and-wires company, is not in a position to provide time frames for when the situation on the ERCOT system will improve.

We have additional information earlier in this thread (see below) that answers questions we’ve received quite a bit. It also has a request of you to help us get your power back on more effectively amid extreme temperatures.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 – 10:25 a.m.

The power emergency continues amid the very cold temperatures this morning.

We remain hopeful that there will be improvement today. Utilities may learn more from ERCOT over the course of the day, but we all also are watching the next storm that’s forecast to move in from the north overnight.

Our automated phone system generally is reporting today at 5 p.m. as our restoration estimate. That estimate was far more subject to change than normal because of the nature of the emergency. It will be revised later today. Please disregard any alternate answers you may see on our outage map.

Our customer service agents will try to help you the best that they can, but they won’t have more details on the situation, nor will they be able to provide additional insight on when your power may be restored.

We appreciate and respect your frustration and your concerns, and we’ll provide what information we can. Please know that our employees all are doing their best to manage the emergency and provide the most useful information available to the best of their abilities.

Storm-caused or controlled outage?

A comparatively small number of customers may be affected by storm damage to our equipment, particularly in the Gulf Coast. But if those same customers were part of controlled outages due to the power emergency, we may not know about damage until after we restore controlled outages.

If your next-door neighbor’s power comes back on, but yours doesn’t, please check your breakers before calling us. It’s also not uncommon for people on opposite sides of the same street to be served by different lines, so that’s not always a reliable comparison.

We ask that you look further down this thread to see steps you can take in your home to ensure an effective restoration of power to lines serving you.

Other questions and answers

We recognize that this information won’t make affected customers less frustrated or their homes warmer, but we hope it helps some parts of the power emergency more understandable.

Q. How come some customers have been affected more than others?

A. The initial plan was to initiate controlled, rotating outages. But the supply of available power went down so much, so quickly that utilities (including TNMP) had little to no flexibility to actually run rotations. Instead, we’ve had controlled, sustained outages under way to ensure we’re doing our part to keep the state grid stable.

We an assure you, however, that we are having continual conversations at TNMP about what we can do to restore at least some customers, particularly those who have been out the longest. We cannot, however, “just do it.” All utilities doing their part to keep the system stable is imperative.

Q. When will this be over?

A. ERCOT manages the grid and monitors how much power supply is available from power generators. It will advise us when we can add more load (turn customers on) or reduce our load (turn customers off). Thus, our best answer, at this point, is that the emergency will continue throughout today and into tomorrow. 

The incoming winter storm is another wild card being introduced to the situation.

Q. When will you have more information?

A. We’ll start to get a picture of how things are going later today, but it likely won’t be a complete picture and it won’t be specific to any individual cities or towns.  

Updates will be posted on this thread as the situation continues to evolve.

Monday, February 15, 2021 – 5:30 p.m.

The situation has improved slightly on Monday, but generally remains the same for most customers.

Customers who are out should make plans based on an assumption that they’ll be out through Tuesday. Obviously everything will be revisited after we get through Monday night.

More customers could be interrupted by controlled outages, depending on instructions we receive from ERCOT. 

ERCOT reported Monday afternoon that 500,000 customers had been restored across the state. ERCOT’s announcement may provide more help to you in understanding the challenges the grid faces.

In preparation for things getting better

When we get the green light to start restoring power, we’ll do so carefully and deliberately to keep the system stable.

You can help ensure it goes more effectively! Please consider these requests below if you’re out now or if you go out:

  1. Please put appliances that consume a lot of electricity, particularly heating systems and electric water heaters, into the off position.
  2. When power is restored, please don’t turn those appliances back on right away. Give it about a half-hour to help us get that part of the system stable.
  3. Leave one or two small lights turned on to help you know that power has been restored.

Please share these steps with friends, family and neighbors who are affected.

We know it's been a rough day that will turn into multiple rough days. We're hopeful things will start to look up on Tuesday.

Monday, February 15, 2021 - 11:30 a.m.

TNMP has adjusted its approach to handling the power emergency’s effect on our system in a manner similar to other utilities.

Unfortunately, if your power is out due to a controlled outage, please make plans based on the assumption that you’ll remain without power until at least Tuesday. Customers who currently have power still may be subject to losing power in a controlled outage.

We implemented rotating power outages in the early morning hours Monday, per instructions from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. We anticipated customers’ power being interrupted for up to 45 minutes per rotation as part of the plan.

As the early morning went on, however, the amount of power we were required to interrupt to help support grid stability continued to increase. We now have extremely limited abilities to rotate outages.

TNMP and its employees fully understand and respect the frustration all customers across the state will feel amid these extreme circumstances.

ERCOT reported that power plants and other power-generation units that tripped off due to the weather conditions totaled more than 30,000 megawatts, which is a very high figure and which precipitated the need for ERCOT to instruct utilities to interrupt more power than originally expected.