I think that we all welcomed 2021 with open arms, ready for a fresh start and full of hope that the worst was behind us. Then February 2021 rolled around and brought with it the most epic winter storm that the Texas Hill Country has experienced in most people’s lifetimes. For one entire week, our area fought bitter cold, wind, rain, sleet, snow, and the worst enemy known to an electric system, ICE, with accumulations anywhere from ¼ inch to over 2 inches, causing broken poles and downed lines.
Thursday, February 11 started out with temperatures in the high 20’s and rain, and it only got worse from there. By midday, we began recording outages in our service area. As the weather conditions worsened, our servicemen tried valiantly to overcome the elements and restore power to those members already aﬀected by power outages. However, it soon became a losing battle, as just as they would manage to repair one thing, another would go down. While the entire State of Texas was hit with winter weather, it soon became evident that our part of the Hill Country was ground zero for this historic weather event.
The call for additional crews to come in to assist us with repairs went out to our neighbors that ﬁrst weekend, still during the height of the storm. But because the storm was far from over and no one knew exactly how bad their individual areas would be aﬀected, those companies elected to keep their crews at home until they knew just how bad the damage would be in their own areas. Even if the extra help would have been released to come earlier, treacherous road conditions made travel next to impossible and did not begin to clear up until a week after the start of the storm. Outside crews began arriving on Sunday, February 21, at which point they immediately began a major rebuild of our infrastructure. Countless broken poles have been replaced, and by my estimation, over 1,000 miles of line has been rebuilt in just under 2 weeks. As of this writing, we have just over 200 meters still without power in hard-hit Gillespie County. Our crews continue to work on rebuilding this area and restoring power as quickly and safely as possible. As of Saturday, March 6, 100% of service was restored to our members.
Many of you might recently have heard news stories warning consumers of skyrocketing energy prices due to the February winter storm. Because of power contracts that were already in place with our wholesale providers, CTEC members can rest assured that their bills will not be aﬀected by rising prices. As a matter of fact, prior to this winter storm, CTEC had planned to lower members’ rates by late spring/early summer of 2021, and those plans are still on track.
However, because of the extreme cold weather, some members may experience high bills due to higher-than-normal usage. If you have questions regarding your bill or need to make payment arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact us and speak to a Billing Representative.
The severe weather of February 2021 aﬀected everyone in our area, some worse than others, and just goes to show that Mother Nature is still in charge. However, while the devastation to our infrastructure resembled damage that is normally seen after a hurricane or tornado, we are all fortunate that we did not lose our homes, that our families are still safe, and that life will get back to normal, sooner or later. One good thing that always seems to come out of a negative experience like this is how our communities pull together to help each other in times of need.
I would like to send out a sincere thanks to all of the CTEC employees and contract crews for all of their hard work and dedication. Many of them haven’t seen their families for more than a few hours since this all started on February 11, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them, and I hope that you are as well.