Who turned the lights out?

ASU and nearby community adapts after power blackout

By Mbulelo Maqungo
On February 13, 2020

Photo by Cora Bishoppetty:
A dramatization of a student working despite the loss of electricity.

The ASU campus and nearby area on Feb. 9 at 8:44 p.m. experienced a loss of power after a malfunction of the city’s underground electrical lines. 

From students losing work in the library and dorms to businesses serving customers in the dark, the campus community was taken by surprise.

“At the moment, we aren’t sure if the shortage was a result of our recent weather, the age of the equipment, or an interference from vermin.” Gricelda Calzada, AEP Texas’ external affairs manager, said. 

AEP Texas is a subsidiary of the American Electrical Power company, a nationwide investor-owned utility company. 

AEP Texas is responsible for supplying electricity to the provider companies that sell it to customers.

“When the metering infrastructure notified us, we immediately dispatched technicians to the 229 meters affected in the area,” Calzada said. “ Within approximately 30 minutes we were able to divert power from certain areas around town to turn most of the meters back on, but we expect to ruturn to normal operations in an hour and a half.” 

Businesses like Lily’s Pizza on Vanderventer Avenue made accommodations for their guests despite the lack of power.

“Some of our customers sitting outside told us they heard a loud noise right before all the lights shut off,” Emily Toy, Lily’s Pizza manager, said, “The staff and I were a bit worried for our customers and the food in the refrigerators, so we lit some candles for all the tables. Thankfully, we were just about to close for the evening so everything worked out smoothly.”

Some dorm buildings like Robert Massie, Mary Massie, Plaza Verde and others were unaffected. However, Texan Hall residents were without power during this time. 

“My roommate and I were just returning to campus and thought it was weird how dark everything was,” sophomore Clare Dobson said, “A lot of students were leaving Texan. We had a little trouble getting inside since the keypads were out, but we weren’t outside for long.”

Freshman Tally Patton lives off campus on Johnson Street and was also affected. 

“Our power shut off while we were watching TV,” Patton said.

AEP Texas recommends in the event of an outage, individuals should go online to the outage reports section of their website as well as call their toll free number at 877-373-4858 to check on the status of their utility.

Community members should not expect calls from AEP Texas according to Calzada.

There has been an uptick in fake phone numbers pretending to be AEP Texas asking customers to pay their bill balances with prepaid cards over the phone, she said. 

“AEP Texas will never ask for payments for electric services,” Calzada said.

If customers feel unsure about sudden payment inquiries, AEP Texas urges customers report malicious calls to their toll free number, Calzada said.


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