Massive restoration means a massive cost, and energy experts said customers may see an increase

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Experts say the cost to restore electricity in Houston won't be cheap
Energy experts explain that the massive restoration of power in Houston will not be cheap and may cost us all.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After nearly a million in southeast Texas lost power from last week's storms, energy experts said the restoration costs won't be cheap, and even if you never lost your lights, you could be paying for it.

Some Houstonians continue to wait for power

CenterPoint Energy said 7,000 utility crews are racing to get power back for more than 100,000 across southeast Texas. One of the places still in the dark is a north Houston neighborhood.

Despite the crews, CenterPoint maps show neighbors may not get power until Wednesday.

"I'm expecting the worst and hoping for the best," Jack Taylor said. "I'm not expecting it at the moment, but who knows?"

Taylor is one of the remaining CenterPoint customers without power - a resource he can't wait to kick on.

"It just feels stale and muggy with the Houston weather," Taylor explained. "The weather comes indoors."

How the massive restoration efforts could come to your bill

Taylor is one of 920,000 customers who lost power from last week's storms. Even if you never lost your lights, you could be impacted.

Here's how.

Energy Ogre COO David Kinchen said CenterPoint will evaluate the storm's costs, which may impact future bills.

"This was a fairly large storm," Kinchen said. "We still have a large number of people without electricity. So, I'm assuming there's going to be some level of uplift, but depending on the timing and how much money that was, we aren't sure what the impact will be to our bills yet."

The good news, experts said, is the company already factors these storms in, and you're already paying for it.

"If you go to your bill, you either have an all-in rate, where it's kind of embedded, or you'll have a line item," Kinchen explained. "You'll see your energy charge, and you'll see another line item called pass-through."

RELATED: CenterPoint Energy launches interactive map to check estimated day of restoration in your area

The interactive, color-coded map lets users zoom into areas across the city and even enter specific addresses to see each area's estimated date of power restoration.

Why not just put the power lines underground?

Taylor's neighborhood has power distributed from above. This is why crews were working to cut down trees and replace lines.

It's an issue some neighborhoods don't have because their lines are underground. If yours are above, Kinchen said not to expect a switch anytime soon.

"Anytime you need to get it even a little bit further away, it's always more efficient to have it above ground," Kinchen said. "Even if it means coming through and restringing it and trimming trees and all those other costs, it's just going to be cheaper."

It doesn't mean it's better, either. Kinchen said it could be harder to find issues underground, whereas issues above ground are more obvious.

Why energy experts said the storm may have a silver lining

In the air, though, it means trees can be a problem. ABC13 meteorologists said last week's storm was the worst wind event for the Houston area since Hurricane Ike more than 15 years ago.

It was an event that could help before hurricane season begins.

"The trees that fell can't fall again, and the ones that didn't fall, hopefully, they're healthy, and maybe it's a little less of an impact," Kinchen explained.

As for this event, nearly all CenterPoint customers who lost power last week should have it back by Wednesday night.

Some are so excited to see crews on their street because they have gone six days without air conditioning, lights, or appliances.

"It's sweaty and a little bit fatiguing," Taylor said. "So far, we're doing the best we can."

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