Panic buying discouraged; BPUB suspends rolling blackouts

The City of Brownsville and the Brownsville Public Utilities Board held a joint press conference Thursday morning where they talked about the suspension of rolling blackouts and addressed the more than 2,000 customers still without electricity.

Chief Executive Officer John Bruciak said BPUB was notified of the suspension of the rotating outages by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) at 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday. Since then, they have restored all customers who were part of the rotating outages.

“By 2:30 a.m. we restored almost all the feeders that we have, we have 54 line feeders that feed the city, we had one feeder that was out this morning, for the north of town, that feeder is in operation right now. So, in Brownsville right now, we don’t have any rolling blackouts,” he said.

“A lot of the generation in Texas was out during this event and now that that generation is starting to come back, there’s been several coal plants, several gas plants and a large nuclear plant that are back on the system in the state. That has alleviated some of the shortfalls that we’ve had.”

Bruciak said BPUB estimates there are about 2,700 or 3,000 customers remaining without service due to issues not related to the rotating outages as of Thursday morning. He said crews are working diligently to have all customers with service again and those without power should contact BPUB.

“In my opinion, if we have one customer off, that’s too many in Brownsville,” he said.

Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez said even though rolling blackouts have been suspended, he advises the public to still be on notice due to the cold temperatures that are set to arrive and have food and water at home. He said he is cautiously optimistic.

“I do want everybody to still be on notice, like Mr. Bruciak said, because we do have some weather coming and we can expect some cold temperatures over the next couple of days, which is good that we came out of the rolling blackouts,” he said.

“But again, I’m cautiously optimistic about not having to go back on there. In the event that we do have to go back to rolling blackouts, you’ll get notice of that.”

Motorist wait their turn to fill up at the pump in Brownsville Thursday. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Mendez said he wants to make sure that the residents don’t panic and start stocking up on food and gasoline like they have been doing for the last couple of days. He said there is no indication of any sort of gasoline shortage.

“Even though it seems as though we’re through the worst of it, with the rolling blackouts and some of the statewide outages, I still want to make sure that people don’t panic,” he said.

An H-E-B container inside the loading bay is unloaded Thursday at the H-E-B on Central Boulevard. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

“That they don’t do what they’ve been doing the last couple of days, which is panic-buying. The gasoline situation is really unfortunate, I’ve heard of a lot of incidents at gasoline stations where, not just long lines, but people getting upset and a lot of high tensions and I discourage everybody from doing so. There’s no indication of any sort of gasoline shortage, so please just stay calm in that regard.”

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.co