How one small South Texas energy company kept power on to customers through historic winter storm

New upgrades, field crews, social media, and community support helped keep power on in Wilson County

Power lines (Pixabay)

SAN ANTONIO – Floresville Electric Light and Power System or FELPS serve about 17,000 customers in Wilson County.

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 14 until Thursday, Feb. 18. the company has had a total of three brief outages, the longest outage lasting about three hours. Those outages were due to downed lines because of trees or ice.

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“As of right now, we have no outages,” FELPS CEO, Winston Low said.

So how was a small electric company that is fed energy from CPS in San Antonio able to stay on?

Low said there were several factors that led to them not having to do rolling outages.

“Our customers so far have been doing what they need to be doing,” Low said.

Large businesses like Lyssy & Eckel Feeds agreed not to power on their mills this week which could have taken power away from an entire town.

Also, residents were informed through social media when to cut off their heaters for about an hour in order to keep the power on in certain areas.

“It’s one of the times that I’ve seen that I’m very proud of this community working together right now, doing the right thing,” Low said.

As we go into another day of extreme cold, we appreciate your continued conservation efforts and your patience with us as we experience outages. We are in this together and all look forward to warmer days.

Posted by Floresville Electric Light & Power System on Thursday, February 18, 2021

Another reason for sustained energy in Wilson County is because of $15 million in upgrades in recent years to keep up with vegetation management, updating the conductor and upgrading systems to allow crews to quickly see which areas need to be tended to.

“Our guys are sitting here looking at where the load is and we’re moving stuff around to keep us from having outages,” Low said. “I’ve got to give a good round of applause to our linemen and crews, they’ve been doing a great job.”

Low could not speak as to why CPS Energy was having so many issues keeping power on for customers but did mention that the longer a system stays down in colder weather the harder it is to power back up.

As of publishing, just under 7,000 customers in San Antonio were still without power, it was previously more than 300,000 customers.

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About the Author:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.