When associate professor Amy Bohmann logged on to her General Psychology class meeting yesterday morning, she had regained power just a few minutes earlier. Out of her 22 students, only four were able to attend class. She started her class, and a minute into her lecture she lost connection.
“A half an hour later I was able to record three minutes of my lecture, and then it went out again,” Bohmann said.
Bohmann’s power had been coming in and out all day due to statewide power outages that have affected around a third of San Antonio residents and have forced Texas A&M University-San Antonio to shut down in-person and virtual operations until Feb. 19.
CPS Energy officials said about 34% of residents have been affected by power outages.
CPS Energy reported at 2:55 a.m. on Feb. 15 on its website that the power outages are necessary because the demand for electricity is higher than what is being generated.
Homes are using more electricity as residents turn their thermostats up in the bitterly cold weather. Temperatures dropped to 13 degrees the night of Feb. 14, according to the National Weather Service. The low was expected to be 10 degrees by 7 a.m. Feb. 15 and 27 degrees Feb. 16. Some parts of the city received 5 inches of snow.
Rotating outages help preserve electricity, CPS Energy officials said.
At 1:21 p.m. on Feb. 15 A&M-San Antonio sent out a mass email that said all classes, including those online, had been canceled for the rest of the day and would resume at noon Wednesday.
Another email was sent at 12:03 p.m. on Feb. 16 canceling classes for Thursday. Classes are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Feb. 19.
Provost Mike O’Brien said A&M-San Antonio canceled classes because of unstable electricity.
Anticipating bad weather, A&M-San Antonio had sent an email on Feb. 12 that said in-person classes would be taught virtually this week. Due to the power outage, virtual classes cannot be held either.
Bohmann had been having issues with her power all morning. She told her students 15 minutes prior to their meeting that attendance was not mandatory.
“Nobody can be remote right now since power isn’t reliable. Even if we’re asynchronous we can’t even post lectures,” Bohmann said.
CPS Energy officials said the outages typically last 10 to 15 minutes, but some neighborhoods may experience longer outages.
“The biggest thing we can say is that we are absolutely sorry that this is occurring,” CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams said during a media briefing. “It is an unprecedented weather event that we actually had thought that the cold weather was behind us.”
Williams said the generated outages are implemented to stabilize the grid because these are high-energy demand days.
CPS Energy officials advise to leave the thermostat at 68 degrees, unplug devices that aren’t in use and to close shades and blinds.
O’Brien said classes had been running smoothly on Monday morning but many students and faculty had reported power outages.
Interdisciplinary studies senior April Gallardo said most students in her Math Methods class were unable to attend class yesterday morning. She said her class usually had 30 students in attendance, but during her 12:30 p.m. class there were about 10 students.
Gallardo struggled to attend her meeting on WebEx from the West side of San Antonio.
“I would get signal and then it would cut off,” Gallardo said.
It was stressful for Gallardo to get to class because the power outage was disrupting Wi-Fi connection.
“With the power outage, canceling classes has taken off a lot of stress,” Gallardo said.
The power outage has made it difficult to stay warm during the cold weather. Gallardo said she stays between the covers to keep herself warm.
Bohmann stays on her second floor and wears a couple layers of clothing to stay warm.
To stay updated on power outages, click here.
Tips from University Police
- Stay indoors. If you must be outside, walk carefully on snowy and ice covered walkways.
- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
- In your home, to reduce the risk of pipes freezing, turn your faucets on to a drip, both hot and cold.
- In your home, keep space heaters at least three feet from flammable objects.
- Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Tips from CPS Energy
Advice for those without power:
- Report the outage, stay up to date with news, unplug electrical equipment, keep refrigerator door closed to preserve food
Tips for conserving energy:
- Turn off lights
- Turn temperature down to 68 degrees
- “(Energy conservation) helps tremendously. It could be the difference between the situation getting worse… and the situation getting better faster.” – Paula Gold-Williams president and CEO of CPS Energy
Those with medical conditions or those who are elderly without power:
- Call CPS Customer Response Unit if a neighbor, family member or friend (elderly or with medical condition) is not in a medical facility and needs assistance, 911 if emergency
- “We’ve been making those calls to our critical care list customers that are elderly or that we know are on some type of medical device checking on them.” – Rudy Garza Chief Customer Engagement Officer
Complete list of tips on:
Asiah Mendoza and Veronica Valdes contributed to this story.