Southern Blanco County residents woke up to find their homes without power on Monday morning, March 19, during a night of high and gusty winds. Transmission service was interrupted to Pedernales Electric’s Blanco substation early that morning at 2:10am, PEC’s communications coordinator Anne Harvey reported. The outage affected approximately 4,300 meters.
“PEC typically tries to resolve transmission issues remotely and often can reroute power from another substation to restore service quickly and safely,” Harvey said, “but this was not an option because the transmission line from the Devil’s Hill substation is currently offline for construction associated with the widening of Highway 281 south of Blanco.”
“Crews were called in, and by 2:45am they were patrolling the transmission line in the rugged area between Blanco and Johnson City to locate the problem,” explained Harvey. “At about 5am they found a broken transmission pole south of McCall Creek Road. Equipment and additional crews were dispatched immediately. However, digging a hole and installing a 55-foot pole safely in windy conditions does take time, so additional measures were taken to reroute power from adjacent substations.”
800 meters received restored service north of Blanco at 7am. South of Blanco, power was restored to 550 additional meters at 9am. By 9:30am, another 550 members in Blanco were brought back online.
“The pole was replaced within 2 hours,” said Harvey, “the transmission line was energized, and power was restored to all meters by 10:44am.”
“We appreciate the understanding of the affected members as PEC crews worked to make this major repair as quickly and safely as possible,” Harvey concluded, “and we encourage members experiencing interruptions to use our automated system at 888-883-3379.”
Members of Blanco’s police and fire departments both patrolled the city to keep an eye out for trouble that might occur during a blackout. As both stoplights were out, officers and firefighters directed traffic until power was restored.
Residents at Live Oak Medical Center had their regular breakfast and campfire-style coffee on the stove.
“The power outage presented difficulty with the start of school, but our teachers and staff responded admirably,” Blanco ISD Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford said. “Power was restored at elementary school and middle school at about 9am; the high school was restored at about 11am.”
“Our teachers and support staff made the necessary adjustments to provide for a safe and secure school environment until electricity was restored,” Dr. Ford continued, pointing out that this is district policy regarding power outages. “I also want to commend PEC for its efforts in restoring electricity so that all aspects of life in south Blanco County could return to normal.”
“In the outage that occurred March 19, it was impossible to notify parents of a school dismissal or a delayed start,” the superintendent stated. “Traditional communication media such as television, radio, Internet, and phone lines were down. We therefore made the decision to open school, receive students, and monitor the situation throughout the morning. Our adjustments until power was restored were successful.”
PEC’s website at www.pec.coop also has information on preparing for possible interruptions.