Power outages are unpredictable, being prepared can help

Power outages can occur at any time and for any number of reasons.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Power outages can be caused by severe weather, car crashes, animals in the power lines or substations and equipment failure.

Since power outages are unpredictable, it is helpful to have an emergency kit and an action plan in the event the outage extends for a long period of time.

According to Gricelda Calzada, AEP Texas external affairs manager, emergency kits should include flashlights, extra, fresh batteries, a battery-powered radio or television (if possible) to monitor the situation, as well as candles, matches and lighters, if needed.

In addition to emergency kits, people should make sure cellphones are fully charged. For customers who take medication(s), have them within reach to avoid looking for them in the dark.

Larry Jones, AEP Texas corporate communications manager, said customers who are on any type of life support equipment, such as a dialysis machine or ventilators, should either have a battery backup or other arrangements for extended outages.

Power outages can be resolved in a few hours, a few days, or in some cases, weeks depending on the extent of the damage and whether the equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.

Removing hazards, such as downed power lines, is the first step AEP Texas takes after a storm. At the same time, assessors are traveling to each area where there is an outage to determine how much work is needed to bring customers back online.

Jones said critical functions such as City Hall, water treatment plants, nursing homes and hospitals are the primary focus when it comes to outages. Individual customers who may be on life support are not included in the critical functions. After the critical functions, crews take steps to resolve the greatest number of power outages in one step.

Calzada said sometimes AEP Texas will do what is called “switching,” where the load is switched from one power source to another and can provide electricity to customers while repairs are being done.

During severe weather such as Saturday’s storm, AEP Texas is already aware of power outages and will provide updates to their social media and website outage map as work progresses. Calzada said AEP encourages customers to report hazards first. Customers should call them if they still have no service and updates to social media and the outage map show they should.

Outages can also occur when there is no severe weather. In these cases, AEP Texas asks customers to contact them unless their retail electric provider prefers, they contact them to report the outage. 

Outages can be reported by calling 1-866-223-8508.

Customers can provide the address, ESI ID number, or the meter number to describe the outage location. Both the ESI ID number, an 18-digit number, and the meter number are located on the bill as is the number to the retail electric provider (REP) and AEP Texas.

AEP recommends customers check their main breaker hasn’t tripped, check with a neighbor to see if they are also without power and check the outage map on its website. Doing so will prevent a possible service fee if AEP goes to the location and the problem is determined to be “inside trouble” or on the part of the customer’s equipment, such as a meter box.

Calzada said AEP Texas does not create orders for nonpayment.

“We get those orders from the retail electric provider the customer actually pays the bill to,” she said.

Calzada and Jones ask customers to contact their REP first by calling the number on their electric bill if they receive a call or text message from someone stating they will be disconnected for nonpayment. The REP will be able to provide the status of their account.

Calzada also recommends residents know the manufacturer’s…

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