Outages cut power to 12,800 area customers

HARLINGEN — The sixth arctic blast to blow into the Valley this winter shut down schools, temporarily closed Cameron County offices and knocked out power for thousands of residents.

An AEP Texas equipment failure knocked out power to about 12,800 customers in the Harlingen and San Benito areas as temperatures dropped to their coldest readings of the winter season.

By 8:30 a.m. yesterday, nearly 1,000 San Benito customers remained without power.

Yesterday morning, more than 5,000 customers remained without power across AEP Texas’ broad South Texas service area.

Outages in the San Benito area led about 8,600 customers to lose power in the San Benito area while about 4,200 customers lost power in the Harlingen area, AEP spokeswoman Daniel Lucio stated late yesterday afternoon.

In the La Feria area, power was restored to about 1,400 customers.

Lucio stated the company restored power within an average of about three hours.

More than 7,600 customers lost power in an area stretching across San Benito, Rio Hondo, Rangerville, Los Indios, La Paloma, Lozano and Green Valley Farms Tuesday evening, AEP Texas’ website stated.

The area stretching from Paso Real to south of FM 732 and from Rio Hondo to U.S. Military Highway 281 lost power about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“The cause of the outage was due to some equipment failure on our transmission line,” Lucio stated.

“The majority of our issues with these extreme temperatures is that customer demand for energy is high due to the demand for heat,” he stated. “We had to do some switching or diverting to ease some stress on some of our lines to make necessary repairs.”

“We would like to thank everyone for their patience during this difficult time. We hope that our customers understand that these cold temperatures bring about issues that many times are out of our control,” he stated.

National Weather Service Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith said there is a chance for more precipitation Wednesday night through this morning in the form of drizzle, which could stick to the ground and become ice.

Throughout Tuesday, Goldsmith said the Rio Grande Valley experienced its first widespread freeze since Jan. 7, 2017, with “feels like” temperatures ranging in the 20s and overall temps in the low 30s.

“It’s certainly feeling like winter here in the Valley much more than we like to see, where the average temperature is usually around 70,” Goldsmith said.

The Brownsville Public Utilities Board reported Wednesday morning that more than 2,000 of its customers were without power because of the freezing weather. BPUB Spokesman Ryan Greenfeld said crews restored power to those customers shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The Port of Brownsville reported on Facebook that it also suffered a power outage that BPUB crews eventually restored.

A total of 2,289 BPUB customers experienced power outages Wednesday morning, but by 2 p.m. only 200 customers in Brownsville were still without power, Greenfeld said.

By The Numbers

22 – Car accidents in Harlingen, 6 p.m. Tuesday to 1 a.m. yesterday


54 – Car accidents in Brownsville, 8 p.m. Tuesday to noon yesterday


8,600 – AEP customers lost power in San Benito


4,200 – AEP customers lost power in Harlingen