BERNALILLO — The Sandoval County Commission meeting Jan. 16 addressed a power outage in November lasting over 20 hours for some PNM customers in Placitas.

Commissioner Katherine Bruch, District 1, asked PNM to explain how customers can have a reliable flow of information between PNM and them during an outage.

“I understand that storms can stress (PNM’s) system and that predicting the exact time power will be restored is difficult. But it is important to people, especially those who rely upon electricity for the operation of essential medical equipment, to have a good idea of how long power may be out,” Bruch said.

PNM Local Government and Community Relations Manager Kristin McLoughlin said about two hours is a general time frame where most outages can be restored.

PNM crews work throughout the night of Nov. 29, 2019, restoring power to the Placitas area after the weather knocked down power poles. Courtesy photo.

The outage that occurred Nov. 29 was a different situation with the weather playing a role in the damages and escalating restoration times, she said.

“The strong wind gusts caused a distribution pole to break, and once it broke, it took down two other connecting poles. And because of the stress on the lines, it caused some challenges in assessing what (damage) was done,” McLoughlin said.

She said this collapse of poles can damage ground lines and other stability underground, adding time to the assessment.

About 2,700 customers in the Placitas area were affected. Within two hours, about 700 customers’ power was restored, McLoughlin said.

Lineman worked for about a 24-hour span to restore power, she said.

Temporary poles were set in place to maintain power until the poles could upgraded.

McLoughlin said customers of PNM can receive updates during an outage in many ways.

As of last year, PNM created a program for customers to receive text updates, she said.

Customers can text #alert to 78766 to register for updates, McLoughlin said. Once customers receive a response, they can follow directions and text #reg to complete their registration.

Customers can text #out to this same number to report an outage. They can also use PNM’s website to report outages and receive updates.

Also, they can use PNM’s social media to receive information by using @PNMtalk on Twitter and @PNMelectric on Facebook.

“I think that it can be really easy sometimes to forget that there are human beings who work here at PNM,” spokeswoman for PNM Meaghan Cavanaugh said. “(Linemen) are the people who go out and work across the country every day, in conditions that are way less than ideal, in all hours of the day and night to restore power for people who have lost it.”

Cavanaugh said PNM regularly performs maintenance on their system. She added regardless of regular maintenance, issues are bound to happen.

When an outage occurs, a team is dispatched to the area of the outage to assess the situation. A plan is then formulated and executed with proper materials and safety procedures in place, she said.

“While utility companies are not subject to county jurisdiction, it is important that we, as county commissioners, develop good communications and working relationships with all of them so that we can relay residents’ concerns to them and keep our constituents better informed,” Bruch said.