Local

Frequent power outages source of residents' frustations

Monday, October 22, 2012

Residents in The Woodlands want answers from CenterPoint Energy over frequent power outages in the area.

CenterPoint blames the dead trees from the drought damaging lines, but customers believe there is more to the problem and they want a solution.

The people we talked to say they've been having power outages this year, and the two electric utilities that serve The Woodlands say it's because of dead trees. But one homeowner association president says it's been going on a lot longer than that.

In a city known for its tall trees, it's not surprising The Woodlands residents are still feeling the aftermath of the 2011 drought.

"A lot of dead trees are falling. I had one actually fall and break my back fence," resident Linda Pechall said.

Homeowners in The Woodlands say they've seen more power outages of late.

"This year, um, 2 to 3. And I live over by the high school here on Research Forest," resident Cliff Bangham said.

Both Entergy and CenterPoint serve The Woodlands. Both utilities say trees that died in last year's drought are the problem.

"We have a number of trees that have died or are in a distressed situation and they're falling," said Floyd LeBlanc with CenterPoint Energy.

But Phillip Givens, the president of the Sterling Ridge Homeowners Association, says the little power outages have been going on for more like five years and says people are losing their appliances and gadgets.

"So the residents have to deal with these continuous nuisance outages, have to replace appliances and damages to their homes," Givens said.

CenterPoint has cut down 2,300 dead trees this year alone, five times the number of the previous five years and says for now, it's the only way to prevent more outages.

"Trees are the number one cause of power outages day in and day out," LeBlanc said.

A spokeswoman for Entergy says that utility, too, is cutting down dead trees as well.

Meanwhile, The Woodlands CenterPoint customers are next in line for a technological upgrade that may help workers restore power faster. It's called grid automation.

"We install automated devices that will monitor what's going on on the power line system, tell us where a problem occurs," LeBlanc said.

Entergy says vegetation management is a big deal for the company but they don't have any plans to execute any technological upgrades anytime soon. However, the spokeswoman says the company does patrol its lines and cuts down any dead branches that are threatening them.

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the woodlands, local, adela uchida
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