Montgomery County power outages: Entergy CEO says fallen trees causes issues

As about a million people in the Houston area are waiting to have their power restored, we checked in with the power provider in Montgomery County.

The hurricane hit Houston hard, leaving the area battered in a big way by Beryl.

Days later, we're still dealing with downed lines and widespread power outages. Like the rest of the region, in Montgomery County, many residents are praying power will return today.

"We have vegetation crews right now that are cutting down the vegetation before we're able to restore power to the community. (So, they're cutting down all the big trees that fell?) All the big trees, getting them out of the way so we can make the repairs," explains Entergy Texas President and CEO Eli Viamontes.

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In fact, if not for all the fallen trees during Hurricane Beryl, Viamontes says there wouldn't be mass power outages.

"That's what you're seeing here. As soon as the vegetation crews are able to clear, then our line crews are able to restore power by installing the new equipment, which you can see is ready to go right here. There were no effects on our power plants," Viamontes explains, and he adds, "When you look at all of Entergy Texas territory, we're not in the ERCOT area, so we serve the Southeast Texas region. We had about 252,000 affected. Here in Montgomery County right now, we have about 110,000 customers still without power. There were roughly 20,000 to 30,000 customers that we restored in the overnight hours."

"We've been without power for three days now. It's frustrating. It's hot. I have three kids at home. This is the first time I'm charging my electric vehicle. I've been waiting in this line for, maybe, like an hour and a half now. There are still two people in front of me. A couple of people said they were at other charging stations and people were trying to fight them to get into the line," says area resident Ariana. 

"My car is down to 33% charged. That won't get us very far. I have my cat and my family members, and we're trying to find somewhere else to go. (Because it's just too hot in your house?) It's extremely hot. We've been without power for about three days now. It's been extremely hard for us," explains area resident Eronda. 

Entergy had 110 poles, 30 transformers, and 450 sections of powerlines destroyed by Beryl, all because of fallen trees.

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"That's been the big problem. That's right. You can see right here this is a pretty massive tree that was uprooted. It caused the power pole to break. These are actually two trees here on these lines," Viamontes points out as he shows us around a neighborhood where crews are repairing downed poles and lines.

"By the end of today, we're expecting to be 50% restored from our peak outages. (So, the hardest hit areas may not be restored until Friday, or do you think it'll go into the weekend?) It can go into the weekend. All the power may not be restored until Sunday. Our team is working safely and quickly around the clock to restore power to our customers," says Viamontes. "Instead of wood poles, we're going with composite poles. So, whatever we're building we are building stronger and that's going to help for the future. (Composite poles are stronger than the old wooden poles?) They are stronger than wood poles. They're as strong as concrete poles but more economical."