More than 1 million people remain without power in Houston as CenterPoint promises restoration times

CenterPoint plans to have power back to 400,000 more customers by end of Friday and another 350,000 customers by end of day Sunday.

By Mark Norris, Houston Public MediaJuly 9, 2024 12:40 pm, ,

From Houston Public Media:

More than 1 million CenterPoint Energy customers were without electricity midday Thursday as for the first time CenterPoint officials promised restoration estimates to be released on its status tracker.

The company hit its initial goal of restoring power to at least one million by the end of Wednesday, getting close to the hallway mark of total restoration.

CenterPoint plans to have power back to 400,000 more customers by end of Friday and another 350,000 customers by end of day Sunday.

RELATED: Cooling centers, shelters open across Houston area in aftermath of Hurricane Beryl

But CenterPoint officials told the Public Utility Commission on Thursday that as many as 500,000 customers could still be without power one week after Hurricane Beryl struck the Houston region with winds more than 80 mph. At the peak of the outages on Monday night, more than 2.2-million were in the dark.

CenterPoint blamed trees being knocked over by Beryl as it moved through the region as the main culprit for the widespread outages. It claims the trees were “vulnerable due to significant freezes, drought and heavy rain over the past three years.”

An outage map released by CenterPoint on Tuesday night was immediately criticized by customerson social media as not being accurate.

The provider’s original map was taken down in the wake of the derecho. Updates on outage numbers throughout the storm have been a box with the number of those without power and second box with the number of those who have been restored.

CenterPoint spokesperson Logan Anderson said customers shouldn’t expect the map to be entirely accurate.

“What this static map is meant to do is to give customers a visual approximation of where we are in the restoration process in the area around them,” Anderson said. “So, there may be some places where the borders do not match up, or people are seeing themselves in an area that is, you know, labeled as energized and they’re not energized. That does not mean that we do not know that you are out.”

RELATED: PR expert: CenterPoint ‘rapidly losing faith and trust’ with communications decisions after Hurricane Beryl

Anderson said the map will continue to be updated and enhanced.

“We will continue learning along this process,” she said. “We are really just working to give customers as much information as possible as it still comes in, and so if customers feel like the map is not reflective of what they’re seeing on the ground, it probably isn’t at certain points in the day just because our repair work or our assessments may have gotten ahead of what that initial estimate was.”

But customers and politicians are unloading on CenterPoint, frustrated with the company’s response to the hurricane.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D – Houston) publicly criticized CenterPoint in a letter to the company’s CEO she posted on social media.

“This isn’t just poor service; it’s a risk to our lives,” she wrote on Twitter.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been out of the country on an economic development trip, told Bloomberg he wants the state’s Public Utility Commission to investigate the repeated outage issue in the Houston region. Nearly 1 million lost power in May when a derecho hit the area.

“I want the PUC to provide information to both me and the Texas Legislature so that we will be able to act on it next year to make sure events like this never happen again,” Abbott told the outlet.

Dominic Anthony Walsh contributed to this report.

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