2013 story: El Paso Electric officials say no outages due to weather; upgrades working great

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso Electric officials said all of its plants are running OK thanks to post-Freeze 2011 upgrades and maintenance.

They also said there have been no outages on Thursday and that crews remain ready for any power outages.

In March 2011, El Paso Electric hired Black & Veatch, a global engineering and consultant firm, to help pinpoint what the issues were in February and determine how operations could improve. That led to improvements throughout the plant including new insulation and heating cords for sensing lines that protect delicate sensors from cold temperatures as low as minus-10 degrees. Prior to the changes, lines were only graded to handle temperatures as low as 15 degrees. They also implemented new heating blankets, heaters, and insulated boxes that keep equipment functioning at optimal temperatures.

Related content from December 2011 article:

In February 2011, a freeze crippled utility companies in El Paso. A sustained cold caused outages for El Paso Electric, which in turn led to rolling blackouts throughout the city.

Cold weather froze water sensing lines that are used to relay information from each unit to the main control room. That data is used to control pressure, and other important factors that protect millions of dollars worth or electrical equipment.

"All these controls have automatic trips and these devices can get a false high, or a false low,? explained El Paso Electric's Vice President of Power Generation Andy Ramirez. "In the case of a frozen sensor line, it will trip the unit to protect all of these devices."

Millions of dollars worth of power plant equipment was potentially saved when those "tripped" units went offline in February, but the failure also left thousands of customers in the dark.

"We've addressed the problem from last February, and we're confident we're good to go," said Ramirez.

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