With spring in full swing in Texas and hot weather only a month away, it is still difficult for residents there to forget just how challenging the winter of 2021 was.
In February, temperatures dipped into single digits, while back-to-back snow and ice storms crippled a large swath of America. In Texas, the Arctic cold left a trail of sleet, ice, and snow that slowed the state to a stand-still, leaving millions without power and knocking out almost half of the state’s power generation capacity.
The results were catastrophic. As the weather got colder, Texans tapped more energy, straining the grid and creating a severe power crisis that required rolling blackouts to prevent a total shutdown. Nearly 5 million residents lost power, many for days. As some people tried to keep warm, they resorted to unsafe methods -- lighting charcoal grills inside their homes to cook, or running cars in their garages to stay warm. This led to at least twelve deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning. and more than a thousand more who required hospital care.
In addition, water service disruptions left 12 million people with freezing and bursting pipes. Making matters worse, 200,000 residents had their water service completely shut off or were non-operational. In the state capital, residents were asked to not drip their faucets—a basic preventative measure against freezing pipes—because water demand remained so high.
In Dallas, residents without water tapped fire hydrants, while in San Antonio, people desperate for water were seen dipping trash cans along the San Antonio River Walk. Across the state, residents were told to boil water.
This winter event did not just hit Texans hard. Neighboring states including Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas saw burst pipes, water shortages, and rolling power blackouts.
The strain from the storm raised policy and regulatory questions not only in Texas but has caused other regions to take notice. How and why was the Texas grid so fragile? How vulnerable is the rest of the country? According to CNBC citing data from Climate Central, the United States has seen a huge bump in weather-related power outages since 2000—67% more.
Is It Possible to Beat the Grid?
Carolyn Brown lives in Nederland, in southeast Texas between Beaumont and Port Arthur, about 60 miles from Port Charles Louisiana. Generally, the biggest concerns there have been during hurricane season, not from freezing cold and winter weather.
Brown, a 63-year-old teacher who lives alone with her two dogs, had lots of experience riding out some of the worst hurricanes and tropical storms this century. She relied on a gasoline-powered generator which meant long lines for fuel and supplies in the days before a storm. It also required that she lug the generator out of storage, set it up, and get it started (always a challenge), Then, she had to go out into the storm at least twice each day to refuel, cool down, or otherwise tend to the generator.
It was Hurricane Laura’s landfall at Port Charles on August 29 that convinced Brown to find a more reliable solution,
When her electric start gas generator wouldn’t work, she decided to make a permanent change to a full home backup generator While she prides herself on being super prepared, she wanted the convenience, security, and independence of knowing she wouldn’t be at the mercy of the storms or the Texas power grid in the future
“From now on”, Brown says,” I'm not going anywhere. No more evacuating, fighting in lines for gasoline, or praying to God the generator starts. This is the house I’ll live in for the rest of my life.
That's why I wanted a Generac. I'm not going outside in a storm to do anything. And, if the Generac is swept away, it was more than we could both handle. And that's it. I don't think that's going to happen. I think that sucker will run with the roof gone, you know what I mean?”
A Family (And Coworker) Affair
For Carolyn Brown, owning a Canter-installed Generac generator has become a family affair. And the excitement she has for her home generator has even translated to some of her colleagues. When her brother and sister each built new houses, they had their builder work through Home Depot to include one, so she followed their lead.
“I chose to go through Home Depot because they set you up with people that help you take care of it and maintain your Generac for you. That's what Canter does for me. I don't know and I don't have to worry about how to do any of that.” Brown says.
She noted that, for her, the Canter service difference started right away with the generator selection process. The technician measured everything and they talked about how she used each space. They selected a generator that was “made for my house” and ensured that every inch would be fully heated, cooled, and powered.
Impressed with the high-quality installation and long-lasting care that are standard with Canter, Brown shared her experience with several friends. Her boss at work was intrigued with the prospects of never worrying about power shutting off during storms. They ordered their new Generac generators on the same day.
A Generator That Protects From All Storms
When Brown’s Generac generator was fully installed, the last thing she expected was a winter storm bearing down on her southeast Texas town. She always kept an extremely well-supplied pantry to get her through weeks of hurricane outages and, although stores across Texas and the Southeast were wiped out, she powered through the winter storms without a blip.
When the ice storm took out local power, Brown didn’t have to do a thing. Her neighbors weren’t so fortunate.
“I had full electricity, I had gas, I had hot water. I had everything,” Brown explained. “I could cook. I could do everything. And, unlike my neighbors, I didn’t have freezing and burst pipes. It was perfect.”
Even her two dogs, usually afraid of the ice and cold, were brave enough to pop outside to do their business on a warmed-up patch of grass near the generator.
In total, Carolyn used the generator for three days. During that time, interested neighbors wondered how she was able to power through. Even friends from neighboring states called Brown inquiring if they could come and stay. But, with icy, impassable roads, they weren’t prepared to make the trek. Carolyn remained safe at home, powered up, and ready to face whatever the storm dished out, without a worry.
The only thing she had to do was to reset her cable TV remote to restore its pre-transition settings.
Reliability Well Into Retirement
Most importantly, a home generator creates a hassle-free life for Carolyn. She doesn’t have to worry about the power at all.
Not just reliability, but a painless, seamless experience before and well after installation
“Reliability,” stresses Brown. “I just love that I don't have to do anything. I was cooking one day on a sunny, bright afternoon. And the power went out and I was like, ‘There's no way that power just went out with not even a cloud in the sky.’ Before I had time to think about it, the Generac cranked up and the stove came right back on. And I was just, ‘How wonderful is that?’”
Share Your Canter Story With Us
Are you a Canter customer who has a story to share about how our home generators have helped you? We’d love to hear it. Reach out to us at Facebook, Twitter, or email.