Sunday, July 14, 2024
LOCAL GOVERNMENT

City faces challenges this summer in electricity, water

Posted

The city of Granbury has experienced a few challenges this summer, like the announcement of Stage 2 Water Conservation on Aug. 11, and the city network becoming compromised on July 30.

But the recent announcements from ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) asking Texans to conserve electricity is just the tip of the iceberg for residents — especially in this scorching heat.

The state's grid operator asked Texans to conserve electricity for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, Aug. 27, as intense heat threatened to cause a power-supply emergency, according to an article in The Texas Tribune,

The call to conserve energy came as Texans were experiencing scorching temperatures, The Texas Tribune reports.

“We have certainly had a 'hot' summer here in Granbury, and we're seeing significantly more cases of heat illness,” Dr. Peggy Luna, RN, chief nursing officer at Lake Granbury Medical Center told the HCN via email on Aug. 30. “Since the first of June, we have seen 58 patients come through our emergency department with heat-related illnesses; two of those had to be hospitalized, and we are blessed that all patients were able to be safely discharged home.”

In mid-August, communities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area broke records for most days of sustained temperatures over 80 degrees and hottest temperature of the year, according to an article written by Zach Freeman from the Tri-County Reporter. Recently, Fort Worth Meacham International Airport saw multiple days break or tie for the hottest recorded daily temperatures on Aug. 17 at 109, Aug. 18 at 110, and Aug 20 at 108. 

At least 12 people in Tarrant County have died due to excessive heat since May 1, according to a report from the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office that was released on Friday, Aug. 18.

According to the Tri-County Reporter, heat killed eight people in July and another four in the first half of August in Tarrant County. Three of the victims were in their 60s, one was in their 50s, and the youngest was 26 years old. Seven of the people listed in the report were older than 70, with the oldest being 79. Of these deaths, five people did not have working air conditioning, two victims were found with their air conditioning turned off, two died while working outside, and another three people were found outdoors.

Additionally, one individual began experiencing symptoms of hyperthermia in Erath County and passed away after being brought to a Tarrant County hospital.

Hyperthermia is an abnormally high body temperature, and is the opposite of hypothermia, when a body’s temperature is too cold. Hyperthermia occurs when an individual’s body absorbs or generates more heat than it can release.

The notice from ERCOT asking Texas customers to conserve electricity was passed on to Granbury utility billing customers, said Jeff Newpher, communications coordinator for the city of Granbury.

“The city does provide electricity,” Newpher said. “We purchase it through a company and then pass it on. We've got a great staff that has an excellent record of responding to outages and things like that. Obviously, conservation is part of that and since we do supply electricity, we ask people to follow these ERCOT voluntary conservation methods.”

Newpher said when the first notice was released, staff members at Granbury City Hall were diligent about turning off hallway lights and other modes of electricity that were not needed at the time.

“Offices that have windows that can let the light shine through, like me, we turned those lights off,” he said. “Typically, I’m on my computer, and so a number of offices like mine, we reduced the power usage of City Hall and other city facilities.”

Residents can conserve energy by turning up thermostats a few degrees and refraining from using large appliances such as washing machines and clothes dryers.

“Our staff and our leadership are trying to do their part to reduce electricity usage, and we just encourage it, as well,” Newpher said. “I turned up my thermostat at home and did some of the other conservation methods. We've tried to conserve as a household, and we've tried to share those messages with all the residents of Granbury to please conserve both water and electricity.”

People, especially the elderly, are advised to remain inside well cooled areas with functioning air conditioning. It is not advisable to turn off air conditioning during peak temperatures or for sustained periods of time.

WATER CONSERVATION

Although Granbury experienced some rainfall this past weekend, it was not enough to end the drought or the burn ban that is currently in place for Hood County.

According to localconditions.com, Granbury experienced a total of .14 inches of rain total for the weekend on Aug. 26-27.

Newpher strongly encourages residents to remember that Granbury is still in Stage 2 Water Conservation.

"I've talked to about 150 Granbury residents that have had questions, and we are appreciative of the conservation methods that people have had,” Newpher said. “Almost every one of them has said that they are in a conservation mode.”

Two of the most common questions, he received from customers he said, were “Can I draw water out of the lake?” and “Can I water my plants with a handheld hose?” The answer, he said, is “yes,” to both.

"There's no restriction on watering out of the lake,” he said. “As of yesterday morning, the lake was only down one foot so that's good. And there's no restriction on (watering with a handheld hose). We've been appreciative of people taking those steps to conserve water and we are hoping and praying for rain.”

Newpher added that the three main challenges that the city of Granbury has faced this summer have been the network compromise, the water conservation, and now, the electricity conservation.

"There's been a lot of challenges this summer at the city of Granbury and we're grateful to people that have said, ‘What can we do to help?’” he added. “We're appreciative of that.”

ashley@hcnews.com | 817-573-1243