Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
Don’t let the recent moderate temperatures fool you — February is usually the month that brings Southeast Texas its coldest weather and the month has only just begun. But long before leaves and temperatures fall, Entergy Texas, Inc. begins preparing for winter weather and the inevitable storms that come with it.
“Winter storms can be pretty fierce and whether they bring snow, ice, rain or tornadoes, you can bet they’ll also bring outages,” said Vernon Pierce,, Entergy Texas customer service director. “For months before the first storm strikes, we work to prepare our electricity network as much as possible for the rough weather that winter can bring.”
This coming winter is expected to fall into the ENSO, or El Nino Southern Oscillation, Neutral category. The National Weather Service says that means it will be neither.
El Nino nor La Nina, which makes it difficult to predict what type of winter weather to expect.
"Regardless, we prepare for the worst,” Pierce said. “During 2011, for example, the company spent about $58 million on operations and maintenance expense for transmission and distribution. We also invested about $135 million for capital additions and capital-related maintenance. Within those categories are included a host of reliability projects to improve the system which, in turns, helps us prepare for winter weather.”
“Just as an example of one key area in which we’ve worked: Last year, we removed 25,870 danger trees, trees that could fall into or otherwise pose a threat to our power lines. Compare that to 2011, when we removed 14,261 trees or to 2010 when we removed only 10,416. The drought of two summers ago had a huge impact on our tree population and we’ve stepped up to the plate to address the problem.”
In addition, company officials constantly review emergency staffing levels, supplies and procedures.
“Our warehouses contain what we call ‘storm kits’,” Pierce said. “These are containers that have most of the supplies we need to get us through the first 24 to 36 hours of a major storm. By the time the kits are exhausted, we’ll have set up material yards and staging areas to provide more supplies.”
To learn more about how you can prepare for storms log onto entergytexas/stormcenter.com.