GUEST COLUMN — Hard Entergy work makes no news good news

Published 12:06 am Saturday, February 10, 2024

There is an old adage that says: “no news is good news.”

This came to mind as I thought about the recent winter weather we experienced in Southeast Texas. Entergy Texas customers saw record cold temperatures, heavy winds and winter precipitation.

What Entergy Texas customers didn’t see was the need for temporary, rolling outages or the ask for customers to conserve energy. This was despite our customers reaching levels of electricity usage close to all-time highs. And while any power outage is without question undesired, no Entergy Texas customer suffered an outage longer than 24 hours.

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In other words, as it relates to power in our 27-county service area, there wasn’t much to report in the way of widespread outages. And that’s what we want: minimal interruptions for our customers so it’s one less worry for them at a time when weather threatens.

Our grid operator plays a major role in making that happen. While most of Texas lies in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Entergy Texas, along with a few other utilities in Southeast Texas, operates in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) power grid.

We work alongside MISO to maintain a careful balance of electricity demand with available supply from resources located throughout MISO, which extends across a 15-state region in the midsection of the United States and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

Success in our business is when our customers never have to think about their power. Being taken for granted is the highest compliment we can possibly get. Making no news, however, takes a lot of work.

It takes the coordination of thousands of people, in multiple locations, working in unison around the clock – all to help minimize the effects for the communities we proudly serve.

Our incident command team starts with working to forecast where best to place our resources, so they are closest to the customers most likely to see the most severe weather and corresponding outages.

Our power delivery crews work before, during and after any storm – whether maintaining vegetation, securing the right equipment or contracting with additional personnel to be on standby ahead of time and throughout a restoration.

Our plant employees execute pre-designed plans to winterize their facilities to maintain operations throughout extreme cold weather, so power supply is not interrupted.

Our resource management group works with our transmission staff to make sure power can be secured outside of our state and routed to our service area in Texas for back-up generation during peak demand, if necessary.

Our “war room” is established to keep all of these teams aligned, which is essential when it’s time for our communications staff to relay timely and helpful information to our customers.

During an event, we also maintain close coordination and communication with MISO, our regulators, state officials, and emergency management personnel. And, in the very rare, worst-case scenario when rolling outages are necessary, our operations and customer service teams coordinate with local officials to implement prepared plans that make sure hospitals, police and fire stations, warming centers and other critical community infrastructure and facilities stay online.

Even years before a storm hits, the time and money our people responsibly invest in building a more resilient grid prevent many potential outages before they start and shorten the duration of those that do.

Our weather today is more extreme than ever and sometimes, even our best planning and execution cannot compete with the strength and unpredictability of Mother Nature. But more times than not, Entergy Texas employees have weathered some of the most difficult conditions to keep our customers ON when they need it most.

I am very proud of the men and women of our company who worked through a holiday weekend and stayed focused on their critical jobs during extremely wintry conditions. Many were braving freezing temperatures outside, while keeping our customers warm and safe during truly life-threatening weather. You may not hear about the tremendous effort our people undertake throughout the year to prepare for such storms, and that’s okay. Because in this case, no news isn’t just good news– it’s great news.

Eliecer Viamontes is the president and CEO of Entergy Texas.