Rural Hunt, Collin County residents fed up with constant power outages

People in one area of North Texas are tired of having to deal with constantly losing power.

Some living in eastern Collin and north and west Hunt counties are losing power more than 20 times a year.

Residents said the problem has worsened over the past few years.

And they said it’s because Oncor isn’t doing enough to maintain the equipment or the thick vegetation that surrounds the lines in that area.

FOX 4 started getting messages after a February ice storm hit the area hard this year, but people living in the area said it’s taken far less to knock out the power for the last few years.

Andy Talley took a FOX 4 crew down the road from his home in rural Hunt County.

"You see there, those lines are just covered in tree limbs," he said.

Talley showed lines surrounded by trees that he believes Oncor should have already cleared out.

"Out in the country, you kind of expect to have outages, you know, but this has just been going on for way too long and they've just been ignoring us for way too long," he said.

James Bowen moved into a home near family in Hunt County.

"We moved in last April and it was like a daily deal that we lost power," he said.

Bowen said that even on a clear day, the power will drop out.         

"My wife and I are both not young people anymore, and we can't handle cold, so it's very frustrating," he said.

Joe Cairns deals with it too.

[REPORTER: "How frequent are you dealing with those outages?"]

"Well, we just had one a few days ago. So that tells you how frequent," Cairns said.

Many of the people reporting problems live in rural communities around Farmersville, stretching up to Merit and Celeste.

Oncor said it serves roughly 6,000 customers in the area, but not any inside the towns of Farmersville or Celeste.

FOX 4 obtained records of complaints residents filed against Oncor in Hunt County since 2020.

The complaints were filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, or PUC.

One said: "4th outage in 2 weeks. This is crazy. In the middle of summer," to which the PUC noted that in less than a year "there were a total of 20 outages" lasting more than a minute.

The notes in response to another complaint said: "Oncor provided the CPD [Consumer Protection Division] with the power outage record for the residence for 2020, which shows a total of 26 outages, both sustained (lasting more than one minute) and momentary (lasting less than one minute)."

Another complaint said: "The customer states since Sunday she has been experiencing outages with Oncor and her concern is that she must take daily breathing treatments."

In response to that complaint, Oncor records provided to the PUC listed 14 outages.

"To see that we have people who are medically reliant on power and being impacted financially because they are having to replace just household appliances just because of the constant electrical problems, you start to be surprised that nothing has been done sooner," Hunt County Commissioner Mark Hutchins said.

Hutchins represents residents in the area impacted.

"It just became undeniable that there was an issue, or a series of issues, that were not being addressed, and people were just tired of it," Hutchins added.

Hutchins said Oncor turned down an opportunity for a public meeting with residents, though he has appreciated the company at least starting to reach out to individual residents.

"There's a strong sense that we're just a small, rural county that doesn't ping on their radar very strongly," Hutchins said.

Some residents feel the situation has gotten worse since Oncor took over distribution assets from another company, Sharyland, in late 2017.

"Once Oncor took over, they just simply ignored us and the vegetation just grew so much," Talley said. "It's just overtaken the lines out here."

Oncor declined to make anyone available for an interview with FOX 4.

A spokesperson did acknowledge the high number of outages and said they just launched a website to update people on progress: "Work is underway to lessen potential outage impacts from severe weather or nearby vegetation, and advanced technologies are being utilized to improve outage response and restoration times. Additional long-term reliability improvements are being developed and implemented."

An Oncor spokesperson said that while they don’t have insight into Sharyland’s former maintenance, they do not "believe" Oncor has reduced tree trimming.

Residents who said they have already been calling Oncor about the problems don’t have a lot of hope.

"I'll give a guy a chance. If a guy tells me he's working on something, I'll give him an opportunity to try and fix it and not bad mouth it, but I haven't gotten any feeling like that from Oncor," Bowen sad.

So they plan to keep a close eye on whether the situation actually improves.

"We deserve the same attention that a city of McKinney, Allen, and Princeton, all of them get. We deserve the exact same attention and the same fixes and repairs you do, the same quality repairs that you do," Cairns said. 

"I know many of my constituents would like to see a lot of work right now, but more importantly, a sustained progress so we know they are not just trying to get in, fix a bunch of things, and then forget about us again," Hutchins said.

The commissioner and others FOX 4 spoke with said they are thankful for the line workers.

It’s the corporate level they want more attention from.

The Public Utility Commission was asked if there’s any sort of broader investigation into the issues.

A spokesperson said don’t they comment on whether they are engaged in an investigation, but are reviewing 2021 reliability reports utilities are required to submit.

For customers seeking help, Oncor has also created an email address to reach a local Oncor representative:

If you have news tips on this, or other matters, please contact Blake Hanson at