Amarillo student plays ‘crucial role’ keeping power on during historic winter storm

Local News

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 16: Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. Winter storm Uri has brought historic cold weather and power outages to Texas as storms have swept across 26 states with a mix of freezing temperatures and precipitation. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – While much of the rest of Texas was “crippled” by power outages during the historic February 2021 winter storm, a West Texas A&M University electrical engineering student was said to play a crucial role in keeping power and heat running through the Panhandle. Nov. 4 at 4 p.m., the university said it will recognize Andrew Boggs as Intern of the Year.

A senior from Amarillo, Boggs is set to be recognized in the second-floor lobby of the Engineering and Computer Science Building. As Intern of the Year, WT said that Boggs will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship through Phillips 66 and will be submitted for the national Cooperative Education & Internship Association Academic Intern of the Year award.

WT said that Boggs has worked with Xcel Energy since he was a senior at Caprock High School, and advanced to an associate engineer position working as a team leader for energy supply projects.

During the February storm, historically low temperatures paired with freezing rain and snow. The worst impact of the weather was seen south of the Panhandle, said WT, because while much of the statewide energy grid failed, Xcel Energy’s power remained.

“This tremendous accomplishment was due to the extraordinary team of Harrington Station, which I had the opportunity to be part of and support the effort of providing power to the families of the Panhandle,” Boggs wrote in a letter supporting his Intern of the Year nomination. “During my time with Xcel Energy, I have worked to increase the reliability of the power-plant systems. … Through my internship, I am able to affect people’s (lives) directly and develop skills … to ensure families never go without power.”

Operations Manager of Xcel Energy’s Harrington Station Adam Ramos called Boggs an “exceptional” intern.

“He may very well be one of the most productive, self-driven, and competent interns we’ve had come through Harrington Station,” Ramos wrote. “Andrew’s duties at this point are indistinguishable from that of a full-time engineer. … For about a month, Andrew stepped up in a big way and served as one of only two engineers assigned to Harrington and successfully shouldered a great deal of the engineering department duties.”

WT College of Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Joshua Partheepan said Boggs is “an example and role model to engineering students in demonstrating excellence in academic, career and co-curricular skills.”

“Out of several of the interns I managed, I can certainly say that Andrew is one of the best and certainly very well motivated in the right direction towards greater success,” Partheepan wrote.

28 other students were nominated for Intern of the Year as well, including many Panhandle-area natives:

  • Sadie Bow, senior agriculture media and communication major from Happy, who interned in WT President Walter V. Wendler’s office;
  • Khortni Brooks, master of professional accounting student from Amarillo, who interned at Johnson & Sheldon;
  • Reilly Dhaliwal, senior equine industry and business major from Boulder, Colo., who interned at Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association;
  • Janette Diaz, master of science in social work student from Amarillo, who interned at Haven Health Clinic;
  • Olivia Forsberg, master of professional accounting student from Amarillo, who interned with Wilson Haag, PLLC;
  • Tessa Gore, senior agriculture media and communication from Crawford, Colo., who interned with a Colorado State University extension agent;
  • Ustina Guirguis, senior agriculture media and communication from Daytona Beach, Fla., who interned with WT’s Office of Student Enrollment, Engagement and Success Office;
  • Ambri Harrigal, junior animal science major from Holliday, who interned with Texas A&M AgriLife;
  • Paige Holbrooks, senior agriculture media and communication major from Gail, who interned with Certified Angus Beef LLC Producer Communication;
  • Rylee Johnson, senior agriculture media and communication major from Happy, who interned with Harvest Connexion Church;
  • Ireland “Jade” Kirkpatrick, senior political science major from Amarillo, who interned with the Leadership Institute/Youth Leadership School;
  • Kordell Kraich, senior animal science major from Akron, Colo., who interned with Where Food Comes From Inc.;
  • Alex Kuehler, junior plant, soil and environmental science major from Groom, who interned with Todd Ag Consulting;
  • Kaysi LaPoint, senior animal science major from Greeley, Colo., who interned with the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Starla Lawhon, junior wildlife biology major from Georgetown, who interned with Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education;
  • Mauro Limas III, senior finance major from Perryton, who interned with Northwestern Mutual;
  • Hannah McLochlin, senior agribusiness major from Plymouth, Ind., who interned with Covenant Show Horses;
  • David Mills, senior music therapy major from Midland, who interned with Sing Your Way Home;
  • Hailey Norvell, senior animal science major from Quanah; who interned with Texas AgriLife Extension Agency — Potter County;
  • Alondra Ortiz, junior chemistry major from Dumas, who interned with Xcel Energy’s System Lab;
  • Adriana Rademacher, senior environmental science major from Willis, who interned with the National Weather Service;
  • Courtney Reed, senior nursing major from Littlefield, who interned with Covenant Health;
  • Landry Ritchey, senior accounting and finance major from Seminole, who interned with First Financial Bank;
  • Hector Rivero-Figueroa, senior mechanical engineering major from Amarillo, who interned with CNS Pantex;
  • Chesson Sims, senior civil engineering major from Clarendon, who interned with Huseman Engineering;
  • Randy Stagich, a December 2020 music business graduate from Plano, who interned with The Dallas Winds;
  • Meagan Wells, senior exercise science major from Wellington, who interned with Heal the City Amarillo; and
  • Joshua Worten, senior animal science/pre-veterinary major from Lake Butler, Fla., who interned with Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Amarillo).

While the beginning of 2021 was a frozen-over disaster for much of Texas, the temperature outlook from NOAA cited that much of the country can expect a warmer than average winter to end the year. La Niña is expected to impact winter weather for the second year in a row, bringing drier conditions to the southern US.

Even without a wet winter in the forecast, the energy grid upon which the Panhandle relies has been set up for improvements that Xcel Energy said will increase its reliability and give room for it to grow in the future. These projects include general grid modernization, investments in specific local plants, and technology such as smart meters.

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