FAIR OAKS RANCH — Left-in-the-dark residents want some illumination from a local utility company about continuing power outages during the last six months.
CPS Energy says it is taking steps to alleviate the problem.
Stay-at-home mom Alison Leal said on several days her electricity was disrupted, and not once due to storms or poor weather.
“At least three times it happened during nap time,” Leal said. “We have houses being built right next to us, so we use white-noise machines to cover the construction noise while the youngest is sleeping. When the power goes out, she wakes up.”
She added, “Then, if it happens during homework time, we lose the internet and we have to wait for everything to reboot when it comes back on. I’ve had to move meat and fish from the freezer to the fridge because it defrosted.”
On March 18, CPS Energy hosted a meeting at the Spring Creek United Methodist Church to address the matter.
“Providing safe and reliable service to our customers is one of our top responsibilities and priorities,” said Rudy Garza, CPS Energy senior vice president, distribution services and operations. “We are committed to continuous infrastructure improvements, maintenance and upgrades across our service area to meet our customer and community’s needs today and into the future.”
Neighbors tracked about six power interruptions in the past half a year, each lasting several hours, with downtime occurring both during business hours and evenings.
For telecommuters or those with young children, the blackouts have been frustrating and untimely.
“In the past six months our power has gone out about four to five times, never lasting more than six hours,” Becki Ferguson said. “I work from home and this has created a huge inconvenience when it occurs.”
After hearing numerous concerns from constituents, Councilwoman Laura Koerner asked CPS to host the neighborhood gathering in March.
“I have noticed different areas of Fair Oaks Ranch have been affected differently,” Koerner said. “Areas in the south side of town (have) been getting the most complaints.”
Some residents attributed a few of the incidents to crashes where vehicles struck poles.
According to CPS, outages can result from such accidents, equipment failure or when a balloon or animal snags a power line.
Residents were told the utility has already developed a plan for the area, which includes improving maintenance of main lines and repairing equipment.
City records indicated that power outages for the past two years have been traced to weather, trees, equipment failure and debris striking electrical lines.
Many denizens said they’ve purchased battery backups or generators, particularly if they work from home. Others who home-school their children say the pupils face difficulties completing assignments when lights and computers are inoperable. Those with small animals requiring heat lamps also have struggled.
Chaille Lazar recalled cleaning her oven last summer during one brownout.
“When the power went off my oven, which had reached about 750 degrees, could not vent itself and the oven door was locked and could not be opened,” Lazar said. “As a result, the heat fried the electronics in the panel. I had to pay for the service call and electronics panel because of my power loss that day.”
Another resident became trapped behind the gates in her home and missed several important work obligations.
“Some time a few months ago, I stopped resetting my clocks because it was pointless,” Kelley Stuff said. “Outages were happening every day, if only for a few minutes at a time. When the power is out, I cannot get out of my property because of my front gates. If I have a meeting, I am completely stuck inside the gates until power is restored… Needless to say, I will be happy when this is over.”