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In the midst of multiple over 100-degree heat waves, Denton Municipal Electric and the university’s Emergency Management Team are working to prevent power outages and heat-related illnesses.
At the time of publication, Texas’ power supply Electric Reliability Council of Texas, one of the United States’ three power grids, currently measures Texas’ electricity grid under normal conditions.
“ERCOT expects sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand, and they are closely monitoring conditions and are prepared to deploy all available tools to manage the grid reliably,” according to the Austin American Statesman.
DME is the singular provider of electricity for the city and one of over 150 electricity providers in Texas. Bill Shepherd, the executive manager of business services for DME said the company is working diligently to provide for its customers during this time.
“We have a lot of measures in place to ensure that [power outages] don’t happen, granted we provide power for our customers here in Denton,” Shepherd said. “But if the overall market, which is operated by ERCOT, […] has a need or a call for a reduced load [of electricity], we may be obligated to assist in a rolling outage.”
Though there is an obligation toward the state as a whole, Shepherd said DME’s goal is to provide consistent service for residents.
“As far as Denton is concerned, and our customers, we keep the lights on just like we do normally,” Shepherd said. “We work hard to make sure that [DME] stays a reliable source of electricity for our customers.”
DME has been recognized by the American Public Power Association and has performed above the national average for the System Average Interruption Duration Index, which measures the duration and frequency of electrical interruptions. From June 1 through Aug. 31, there were 256 outages in 2019, 201 in 2020 and 165 in 2021, according to DME. DME has recorded 92 outages since the beginning of June 2022.
In the event of an outage Julie Elliott, the university’s emergency preparedness and business continuity manager, said preparing before the onset of extreme weather is important.
“Ideally, something that we are trying to encourage constantly is to prepare beforehand,” Elliot said. “Before a winter storm happens, before one of these extreme heat waves, ideally, every person should have their own emergency kit. Think about if you were stuck in your home or in your residence hall or wherever you live, […] if you happen to be stuck there, what are the things that you’re gonna need? For some people that’s medication, some people need to have bottled water and nonperishable foods.”
In the case of emergencies, such as extreme heat or cold, the university sends out Eagle Alerts and makes organizations hosting outside events aware of the inclement weather.
Gina Vancore, the university’s executive director of housing and residence life assured that plans are in place for dorm hall residents over the summer during this wave by making as many provisions as possible to respond to weather-related issues.
“We plan to be able to shift how services are provided to make sure that summer residents and orientation participants are given the best experience possible,” Vancore said.
With an excessive heat warning lasting throughout the past two weeks of July, Elliot said there are steps people can take to stay safe.
“The temperatures in North Texas would be considered dangerous, so you really need to limit the time you spend outside,” Elliot said. “Drink extra water and really just stay inside. If you have to go outside, try to go early in the morning when the sun isn’t up or try to do it in the late evening when the sun’s gone down.”