A power outage that affected 85,000 East Texas customers Sunday was caused by an overload on part of the power grid after vegetation came into contact with two major power lines, according to a preliminary investigation by SWEPCO.
Initial reports show the first high-voltage power line came into contact with vegetation that had grown into it, causing a fault on the electric system around 4:00 pm Sunday. Heat and high customer load caused a second high-voltage power line to sag into vegetation growing below it, resulting in a second fault around 4:15 pm. SWEPCO implemented an emergency procedure of controlled outages to avoid further overloading of the system. The total outages peaked at approximately 85,000 customers around 7:00 pm.
“We’re continuing to investigate the sequence of events to better understand what happened,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president, and chief operating officer. “We are inspecting power lines and clearing additional trees and other vegetation in problem areas along transmission rights-of-way, where excessive rain this spring and summer has resulted in high vegetation growth.”
“We recognize that this outage disrupted our customers’ lives and businesses,” Smoak said. “We appreciate their patience during the outage.”
SWEPCO restored power to a majority of customers by 11:00 pm Sunday. Work continued overnight to complete restoration of service to the remaining 500 customers.
The customers affected by the outage were primarily in Longview, Marshall, and the surrounding areas of Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Rusk, and Upshur counties.