PRESS RELEASE: Emergency Update from Oncor

From Staff Reports

PRESS RELEASE:

Oncor: EMERGENCY UPDATE – DALLAS (Feb. 17, 2021)

There continues to be a lack of available generation, and as a result, controlled outages remain in place as directed by ERCOT. Due to lowered power demand overnight, Oncor and other utilities were able to restore some of the previously dropped power load and increase our capability to rotate some outages throughout the territory.

Even with this increased capability, we still have many customers who continue to experience extended outages. We continue to strive toward providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest as soon as enough generation is available. However, as we saw yesterday, low temperatures of the early morning and increased power demand may result in direction from ERCOT to once again reduce additional load. We will continue to take their direction as we focus on ensuring the integrity of the electric grid.

The second winter storm is also continuing to move through our service territory, potentially resulting in multiple inches of snow, significant ice and sleet accumulation. While weather impacts are ongoing, personnel and out of state mutual assistance contractors were staged across the territory before the storm and are now actively engaged in restoration efforts. These personnel are well experienced in working in extreme weather conditions and will be working around the clock to assess damages, clear debris and repair damaged equipment.

FAQs

Q: Why is my power out?

Customers have power outages for two primary reasons: First, controlled power outages in response to the shortage of generation. Oncor does not generate electricity or control or operate generation facilities – we deliver it. As a result of this generation shortage, ERCOT, which oversees the Texas electric grid, has directed transmission and distribution companies like Oncor to reduce load on the electrical grid through controlled outages.

These controlled outages were intended to roll throughout the service territory, but the high amount of load dropped from the grid prevented us and other utilities from performing regular rotations, leading to extended periods without power for many of our customers. We continue to strive toward providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest as soon as enough generation is available.

Additionally, the second winter storm is also continuing to move through our service territory, potentially resulting in multiple inches of snow, significant ice and sleet accumulation. Personnel and out of state mutual assistance contractors are actively engaged in restoration efforts.

Q: How does Oncor decide who is affected by controlled or rotating outages?

The location of controlled, or rotating, outages depends on a variety of load factors, including the amount ERCOT has directed us to drop and the amount available to be safely disconnected. These types of outages primarily occur in residential neighborhoods and commercial areas. We also strive to avoid dropping hospitals and other critical loads and infrastructure.

Typically, Oncor’s emergency operation plans spread these outages across the service territory on a rotating basis. Due to this unique widespread power emergency however, ERCOT has directed Oncor to drop a record amount of load over a much longer period of time. Therefore, we have had to drop all available, non-critical load and regular rotations have often been prevented. These outages are absolutely critical for ensuring the integrity of the grid and preventing cascading impacts such as a blackout. We will continue to rotate outages where possible and aim to provide any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest as soon as enough generation is available.

Q: Why are some homes out for hours and others not at all?

Controlled outages can affect customers differently based on the load reduction required by ERCOT. For example, customers near critical facilities, or those in limited areas where rolling outages cannot take place to maintain grid stability, may not experience outages, while those farther from these facilities or areas may experience multiple outages for longer periods of time.

Additionally, in case there are instances of substantial generation drop, safeguards are built into our system that drop customer loads automatically to prevent cascading widespread outages, or ultimately a blackout. These are designed to be short term drops that are reset quicker than controlled outages to prepare for the next response opportunity. As these limited areas must be energized in order to provide this grid protection, it could affect you but not your neighbor.

Keeping these limited areas energized also helps stabilize the system, so when controlled outages are done, we can more easily get everything reconnected and turned back on. These are diverse geographical areas across the grid, based solely on the mathematic and engineering needs of the electric system.

Lastly, while these controlled outages were intended to roll throughout the service territory, the high amount of load dropped from the grid prevented us and other utilities from performing regular rotations, leading to extended periods without power for many of our customers. We continue to strive toward providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest as soon as enough generation is available.

Outages due to storm damage also affect different customers in different ways. A downed power line might affect your home but again, not your neighbor.

Q: When will my power be restored?

For controlled outages: ERCOT has been unable to predict when more generation will be available and when there will be enough electric supply to meet customer demand. We are doing all we can to ensure Oncor will be prepared to safely deliver electricity to our customers as soon as ERCOT allows. For winter storm damage: Our crews and out of state mutual assistance contractors are now actively engaged in restoration efforts. Continued winter impacts such as extreme cold, treacherous road conditions and ice buildup may impact progress. However, these personnel are well experienced in working in extreme weather conditions and will be working around the clock to assess damages, clear debris and repair damaged equipment. Even then, power from ERCOT must be available for us to reenergize your home or business.The bottom line: Because ERCOT cannot yet tell us when power will be available, we continue asking all Oncor customers to be prepared to be without power for an extended period of time. Q: When will power generation plants come back on-line?Oncor does not own or operate generation facilities. The current cold weather has caused many of these generators to shut down and ERCOT has not told us when to expect them back on-line. We continue to strive toward providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest as soon as enough generation is available.

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Headquartered in Dallas, Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC is a regulated electricity distribution and transmission business that uses superior asset management skills to provide reliable electricity delivery to consumers. Oncor (together with its subsidiaries) operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, delivering power to more than 3.7 million homes and businesses and operating more than 139,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines in Texas. While Oncor is owned by two investors (indirect majority owner, Sempra Energy, and minority owner, Texas Transmission Investment LLC), Oncor is managed by its Board of Directors, which is comprised of a majority of disinterested directors.

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