Power Outages Generate Frustration in Murphy
A Murphy resident asked the Murphy Messenger to investigate why they have experienced power outages at their home on Ridgeview Drive since moving in 33 years ago. She said they can lose power up to six times in a year. They had been told that it was due to being located at the end of the power grid.
Her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in February of 2011 (he passed away in March of 2017). In 2012, when his health was failing, they paid $11,000 to purchase a generator. The couple was concerned for each other’s well-being when (not if) the power went out again. Even though this resident has a generator, which is automatically activated within eight seconds when the power goes off, she is still concerned for her elderly mother who lives across the street from her as well as for her neighbors who experience the same recurring power outages. The last outage occurred January 7 and lasted over seven hours.
A Murphy resident, who has lived on Horizon Drive for approximately five years, said they have lost power three times since July. He said the power is usually off for at least three hours. He said that they also installed a generator because his wife works at home and needs to stay connected.
He said he understands there are two main power feeds coming in to the neighborhood (Skyline Acres and Travis Farms), typically one will go off, but the other stays on. He informs that during the recent outage, both were off. He said, “Recently Oncor did upgrades to the system to (supposedly) minimize the outages.”
Barry Young, Oncor area manager and Murphy resident, said, “Myself, and Oncor, are very close to this situation and minimizing the outages for these folks is our utmost concern. I cannot stress that enough.”
Young listed many causes for power interruptions that affect Ridgeview Drive and surrounding areas: trees, wildlife, storms, vehicles, equipment problems, etc. He said the information that the outages are caused by being at the end of the power grid is incorrect. He said, “Oncor worked closely with both the City of Murphy and the residents in this neighborhood to help minimize interruptions. In 2014, Oncor trimmed trees, remedied a few pole issues, replaced some lightning arrestors and installed wildlife guards in some locations. Most recently in 2017, Oncor performed further tree trimming and installed several fuses at key points in an effort to possibly reduce the number of customers affected in certain situations.” Regarding when residents in this area should expect solutions, Young said, “We have worked, and continue to work, with customers to avoid interruptions in service. No matter how much we prepare, occasional outages may occur. Remember that when any outage occurs, our crews will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.”
Explaining power feeds to this area, Young says, “No two outages are the same. The outage type and location are key indicators of how many customers might lose power. The power to this particular neighborhood has only one feed. But the feed has three phase laterals with multiple fuses throughout the neighborhood at various locations. This setup benefits customers. First, it is more energy efficient to operate three phase equipment, if they have any, off multiple phases. Second, if a tree falls on a line down the street, it is less likely all houses in that neighborhood will be impacted, because the homes are pulling power from different locations. However, there could be cases when one customer temporarily loses power and the customer across the street does not.”
A Murphy resident who has lived on Moonlight since 1992 and another resident, Barbara Harless, who has lived on Summer Place since 1981 both add power surges as an additional hardship associated with the power outages. They report that power surges have ruined some of their appliances, computers and air conditioning units. (In 2005 Harless sent a letter to TXU, explaining costs incurred due to power surges. She said she received a check from TXU (in excess of $4000) which covered the cost to replace both of their A/C compressors.)
Young explains the terms power surge and power outage and how they relate, “A power surge is a spike in power. A power outage is where power is completely interrupted. There could be a surge when power is restored.” He said, “Electronic appliance manufacturers recommend adequate surge protectors be placed on sensitive equipment to avoid damage. With proper protection in place, there should be no damage.”
Young said that if power goes out residents should, “Know the outage reporting number 1.888.313.4747 and use it. You can also text OUT to 66267 (ONCOR). Don’t assume that we already know about your outage or that a neighbor reported it for you. Also, take advantage of public places that do have electricity and AC, like public libraries or shopping malls.”
Oncor has a critical care list for sick, elderly and at risk persons. Young said those customers are given the highest priority for restoration during any outage event. He said to contact your REP (retail electric provider) for information about how to get on the critical care list.