Power outages in north Tyler neighborhood being addressed

Published on Saturday, 22 February 2014 22:01 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Calvin Lucas tries to stay ready for a possible power outage.

He has antique oil lamps that can be used for light and puts a flashlight in his bedroom.

“When the lights go out, you’re in the dark,” he said. “Wherever you are, you have to try to find light.”

Lucas, a senior citizen who lives on North Glass Avenue in Tyler, is one of the residents in that area who has dealt with prolonged power outages.

The affected area includes 49 homes, located north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. They are on North Whitten Avenue, 32nd Street, Border Avenue and North Glass Avenue. Parts of West 29th Street are also included.

Most of the outages have been caused by tree limbs or some type of wildlife, and in the last two years, there have been three outages that have lasted more than eight hours, said Charles Hill, Oncor’s Eastern region customer operations manager.

Councilman Ed Moore, who met with residents on Tuesday, said Oncor is talking about splitting the 49-home service area, where 12 homes would be on one service line and 37 would be on another.

That reduces the probability of both groups being without power at the same time, Hill said.

He said Oncor also plans to add fuses, which means fewer customers will be without power at a specific time because of trees or wildlife.

Additionally, he said, Oncor is working with the city of Tyler to eliminate dead trees that have caused outages.

But resident Andrew Melontree, who lives on North Whitten Avenue, said he believes more could be involved with the outages, other than trees and squirrels.

“What contribution do they make toward the … problems?” he asked during Tuesday’s gathering. “Other areas with a lot of trees are not plagued by this problem, so why is it that we have unique trees and unique squirrels that knock us out of power and can reasonably predict … we’re going to have an outage?

“There’s something more peculiar,” he added.

Melontree, 82, said he believes more can be done, and it can create a hazard for residents to try to get around the house while the power’s out.

“They need to do whatever is necessary to remedy the problem…” he said. “We’re trying to eliminate the scope.”

Hill said the tree removal is expected to begin on Monday, but the electrical changes won’t begin for a couple of weeks.

Hill said, “there are no guarantees in our business as far as keeping the lights on,” and the affected area is at the end of a long circuit, meaning those residents are farther from the power source and more likely to have outages.

“It’s an ongoing issue, and we’ll be addressing it on an ongoing basis. But we do feel (that the planned efforts) should substantially improve service for these 49 homes,” he said.