Aug. 12—HIGH POINT — Tyler Berrier said he doesn't use Facebook, but does read the comments on social media after large power outages like the ones that hit the city on Monday and Tuesday.
"I think most people understand an outage if they're living through a storm," he said. "But whenever something happens and you're not under those conditions, I get it that the conspiracy theories may start flying about — 'They don't have enough capacity' or things like that. And that's not the case."
As the city's newly appointed director of electric utilities, Berrier is uniquely qualified to make these pronouncements.
After four years as assistant director of this city department, he's just taken over the top job. He was selected by the city's management team following a search process that drew seven applicants to replace Garey Edwards, who retired last month after serving as director since 2005.
Berrier has been with the city since 2014, serving as a civil engineer and as a project manager for the public services department before moving to electric utilities.
Before joining the city, he worked for the N.C. Department of Transportation in various roles from 2005 to 2014.
He holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is a licensed professional engineer.
His annual salary in his new position is $159,075.
High Point is one of 51 cities in North Carolina that operate their own electric service. Berrier's department has 65 full-time employees and a $134.1 million operating budget, about 80% of which goes to the city's annual wholesale power purchase from ElectriCities.
Berrier has already been tested in his new post with this week's outages.
After lightning hit a substation Monday night, more than 10,000 of the city's roughly 43,000 electric customers lost power. All of the outages were restored within about 2 1/2 hours.
There was nothing particularly unusual about an outage this large during a severe weather event like a thunderstorm. But less than 24 hours later, another widespread outage hit, this one unrelated to the weather. Berrier said it was caused by a breaker failure at one of the delivery points to the city's grid.
It was bad timing, but not an indication of any systemic issues with the grid, and everyone was restored within about an hour, he said.
"Our predecessors, even before Garey, have done a really good job of planning the system and the grid and building in extra capacity," he said.
Additional upgrades are in the pipeline, including completion of a loop of 100-kilovolt transmission lines that will give the city the ability to transfer power between substations in the event of outages or equipment failures.
"In the last few years, we've done several substation upgrades where we bring in new transformers and other equipment," Berrier said. "We're going to continue being really aggressive with that."
Another big project that's kicking off is the city's shift to an automated metering system that allows electric meters to be read remotely.
Berrier said this will improve efficiency for the city and give customers real-time data on their usage and options for pre-payment of utility services, among other benefits.
email@example.com — 336-888-3531
(c)2022 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.)
Visit The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.) at www.hpenews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.