SAN ANTONIO – Last year was an electrical one for San Antonio.
"We had a lot of storms,” said Ricardo Renteria, manager of power quality and reliability for CPS Energy.
The high number of storms wreaked havoc on the city’s electrical grid, according to CPS. According to data provided by the utility, a total of 66,337 lightning strikes inside the CPS service area were detected in 2015. In April and May alone, 46,290 strikes were detected.
"Lightning is going to do what lightning is going to do,” Renteria said. “We can’t control it."
That is not the end of the story for CPS, though. While they cannot control lightning strikes and the subsequent power surge, they do prepare extensively for the natural phenomenon.
"Within 12 hours [prior], we really start to make decisions on manpower and material availability,” Renteria said.
Once the storms hit, experts at CPS then turn to advanced software that can pinpoint lightning strikes. In almost real-time, they can tell if a strike occurred near a transformer or another part of their grid.
"So when a lightning strikes and our equipment is lost, we're able to really correlate that that is exactly what it was,” Renteria said.
From there, CPS jumps into action to repair the equipment.
Meanwhile, 2016 has started off busy.
In March, 8,000 strikes were detected in the area, according to CPS. Renteria believes 2015 served as great preparation should April and May bring more storms.
"It tested our abilities, and I think we came through pretty well,” he said.
According to Renteria, equipment to protect transformers from lightning strikes remains too expensive for most cities to invest in. However, once a power outage occurs, CPS said it works around the clock to restore power.