Oncor and restoring power

The question is not whether Oncor, which maintains the power lines and handles electricity transmission in the Dallas area, did all it could to restore service during last week’s unpleasantness. When there is five years worth of snow in one day, even the cynical among us will acknowledge that the company couldn’t have done much more.

What’s more interesting is how unprepared Oncor was — and still is — with the public relations part of the crisis. Yes, officials finally admitted on Saturday that it probably had not been a good idea to boast that the company was ready for the storm. But even this morning, they still didn’t understand why so many of us who waited so long were so angry.

In one respect, this isn’t surprising. Too many of the people who run things around here have very little respect for those of us who pay their salaries, be they part of regulated utilities or are elected and appointed officials. So, as a public service, a few thoughts after the jump about things Oncor should consider next time:

• It’s not our fault the power is out. Oncor, for some reason, is fixated about tree trimming, and whenever there is a problem like this they blame us for not letting them trim trees. They were doing it again over the weekend — company officials said homeowners who would not let them trim trees were delaying repairs. The last thing Oncor should be doing is assigning blame, especially since it was the one that said: "Bring it, Old Man Winter. Oncor’s ready."

• It’s not enough to say that power is out in 200,000 homes. Tell us where those homes are. Tell us how many homes have power. This will offer some perspective that is actually quite useful. This lack of information is not entirely Oncor’s fault. It also rests with the Dallas-area news media, who don’t know the questions to ask — or don’t care to ask them.

• Explain why I don’t have power, but my neighbor across the street does. This was perhaps the most frustrating part of the power outage. Tell us what you’re going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Tell us how much this is going to cost us.

 


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