Houston/ Politics & Govt
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Published on July 10, 2024
Houston's Power Grid Suffers $475 Million Blow From Hurricane Beryl and Storm, CenterPoint Energy and Officials Face Heat Over ResponseSource: Google Street View

As Houston recovers slowly from the wrath of Hurricane Beryl, CenterPoint Energy has estimated the damages from the preceding derecho and another storm in May could hit their pocketbook as hard as $475 million. The Hurricane, adding insult to the city's already bruised electric grid, further battered the poles and wires, leaving approximately 1.6 million customers power-deprived amid escalating temperatures, Houston Chronicle reports.

While enduring the sweltering heat, residents have harbored frustrations as, highlighted by a new map from CenterPoint Energy, work on restoration has barely scratched the surface in many areas still in the dark. The extended Heat Advisory compounds the misery for more than a million households, with some Texans questioning CenterPoint's disaster response readiness and execution.

In the Greenwich of the recent disaster, CenterPoint executives, along with Governor Abbott, were abroad courting international business relations, leaving behind a city urgently requiring their leadership. A weeks-old estimate delivered by Jason Ryan, CenterPoint's executive vice president, predicted repair costs from earlier storms to be between $425 million to $475 million, according to an interview with the Houston Chronicle. These calculations, however, predated Beryl's catastrophic visit.

Although CenterPoint has surged its repair efforts by bringing in additional crews, totaling 12,000 workers, concerns hover about the efficiency of these mobilizations. Acknowledging a handful of instances where crews idled awaiting assignments, CenterPoint spokesperson Paul Lock offered insights into revised strategies: "We've found it's more productive if we do the assessment and then go out to where the need is, otherwise we're just randomly just sending them out," he told ABC13.

Acting Gov. Dan Patrick emphasized that potential errors in CenterPoint's response will be examined by the Public Utility Commission and the state legislature. Meanwhile, customers are instructed to keep 911 calls for emergencies, following nearly 16,000 calls to 911 regarding outages on Monday alone. For power concerns, CenterPoint's direct line is advised: 713-207-2222, as mentioned by ABC13.

As the tally of costs inflicted by Hurricane Beryl is still underway, consumers brace for what this means for their future utility bills. The financial burden from Hurricane Ike, which reached $663 million, culminated in additional charges for customers spread out from 2009 to 2022. With bond offerings and PUC approvals in the pipeline to cover costs, the full economic impact on Houstonians looms, yet to be sealed.