North Texans confused after seeing spikes in their energy - Dallas News |

Spikes in North Texans' energy consumption during blackout causes confusion

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Many electricity customers in North Texas are reporting seeing what looks like a huge spike in their energy consumption when their lights were out during the recent ice storm.

"The lights went out about 2 a.m. on Friday and they came on Monday 3 p.m.," said Kris Estrada.

Estrada gathered the essentials he needed before his 85 hours in the dark.

"Sat around, played dominos, played cards, played with my dog," he said.

But when the lights came back on, he found something he didn't expect -- it appeared as though his electricity use during the blackout had skyrocketed

"It was almost as if the power was on and I was doing double," he said.

Estrada's was just one of several readouts sent in by viewers to FOX 4. All had last power, and each one saw what looked like a spike in usage.

"What folks are seeing on the Smart Texas portal is estimated data based on a no-read situation," said Chris Schein with Oncor Electricity Delivery.

Schein says while there may have been no consumption, there was also no available data, so the meters just fill in the blank.

"You begin with what your last year's usage was," said Schein.

So FOX 4 took a look back one year ago -- the temperatures were in the low 70's, which wasn't likely high time for high consumption. It turns out those very high estimates people have been receiving might not have anything to do with their actual energy activity at all.

"The other thing that it also takes into account is what your peers are doing," said Schein. His explanation shows why the numbers are so unusually high. Because so many people were using so much power to stay warm, the system saw a spike overall and applied that usage to the estimate for folks who had no power.

Therefore, customers' actual bills will be based on actual data for their own homes.

"Customers can rest assured they're going to be billed accurately," said Schein.

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