Addressing a problem you did not create – it’s a challenge many cities in Texas faced when the state’s power grid had both too little supply and soaring demand 11 months ago.
The combination left millions of Texans without electricity and potable water for days.
Rocky Vaz with the city of Dallas says the response after the storm was swift.
“We looked at how we could be better prepared,” Vaz said.
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The director of Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management says the immediate answer was more backup power.
While the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the grid, says it is ready this winter, large cities like Dallas are preparing in case February 2021 repeats itself.
Dallas has spent $1.6 million dollars on eight fixed generators that will attach to the side of three libraries and five recreation centers:
- Audelia Road Branch Library
- Beckley-Saner Recreation Center
- Jaycee Zaragoza Recreation Center
- Kleberg-Rylie Branch Library
- Mountain Creek Branch Library
- Pleasant Oaks Recreation Center
- Timberglen Recreation Center
- Marcus Mark Recreation Center
However, OEM cautions the generators won’t be ready this winter.
“It’s not as easy as getting a generator and putting it in a rec center,” Vaz said.
On Wednesday, the city council is expected to approve a contract for electrical upgrades which will allow the city facilities to receive the generator power.
District 5 councilmember Jaime Resendez says the city also has emergency warming buses ready.
That's something the city deployed during last year's winter storm to provide basic warmth and electricity on the go to neighborhoods that needed it most.
“I’m confident in the work the OEM has done but obviously we don’t want to get overconfident,” Resendez said.
The city has also secured six “mobile power units” that, even without a generator, will allow a gymnasium inside a recreation center, for example, to have power if Oncor is unable to deliver power because of an issue with the ERCOT grid.
Vaz adds supply chain issues have delayed the shipment of those mobile units but they should be ready to go before the end of the month.
“Hopefully it will be here in time, if and when, we have another event we saw in February, Vaz added.
Additionally, in the event of a need for water distribution services, the city of Dallas has identified vendors that can provide large-scale deliveries of bottled water. OEM also has approximately 1,000 five-gallon buckets that may be used for non-potable water.
“We’re in a better position than we were last year," Vaz said.
The city's Office of Emergency Management said it will notify residents of warming stations, procedures, prevention efforts and warnings ahead of any winter event this season.
The public safety meeting started at 3 p.m. Monday. The meeting is being streamed on the city of Dallas website.