Hill Country residents upset over lack of communication from power company during ice storm

Pedernales Electric Cooperative says it’s working on improvements to its outage map

Pedernales Electric Cooperative held its first board meeting since the ice storm that caused extensive outages for people in the Hill Country.

Dana Buchanan, who lives in the Spring Branch area, was without power for nearly three days in early February. She said she was frustrated by the outage map and how it listed response times.

“The communication piece is really the key thing that we all think is lacking, for three days. The date didn’t change and the time didn’t change,” Buchanan said.

Board members said improving the outage map during severe weather is their priority.

“Improving our outage map is the primary after-action item PEC is focused on following Winter Storm Mara. We understand that our members depend on this tool for status updates during outages, especially those involving severe weather. We are dedicated to improving this experience for our members in the future, and will continue to find solutions that meets our members’ needs,” PEC said in an email.

PEC said it is aware of the frustration.

The outage map calculates restoration times based on historical data or staff will manually enter restoration times, according to PEC.

PEC staff struggled to enter restoration times while managing nearly 98,000 outages system-wide.

“Working with district field operations, we quickly began to establish broad ETRs for large outages, adding these updates online and texting updates to our members,” PEC said in an email.

Some people living in the Canyon Lake, Bulverde area experienced extensive outages because there was damage to a transmission line that belonged to another provider.

In an email, PEC said, “It wasn’t until the transmission was fixed that PEC could understand the damage to the Cooperative’s own equipment and make the necessary and complex repairs.”

Buchanan said she would like more community outreach from PEC, saying some customers can’t travel to Johnson City to attend board meetings and are unable to watch the meeting live.

“Is there a way for residents to join via Zoom to voice our concerns? No response,” Buchanan said.

Here is a link to contact your board member directly with questions and suggestions.

Canyon Lake and Bulverde are in District Six under Paul Graf.

About the Authors:

Camelia Juarez is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2022. Camelia comes from a station in Lubbock, Texas. Now, she is back in her hometown. She received her degree from Texas State University. In her free time, Camelia enjoys thrifting, roller-skating and spending time with family and friends.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.