Fiery Houston mayor grills CenterPoint in first council meeting since Beryl

Chaz Miller Image
Thursday, July 11, 2024 2:25AM
CenterPoint still waiting on exact timeline for power restoration
Emotions were high at Houston City Council's first meeting since Beryl hit, as they grilled CenterPoint about the recent response to restore power.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Mayor John Whitmire expressed a lot of anger throughout Houston's first city council meeting since Hurricane Beryl's landfall.

Whitmire said throughout Wednesday morning that the storm showed previous administrations "neglected" the city's ability to function during severe weather.

He said 10 fire stations, several multi-service centers, and the George R. Brown Convention Center weren't operational due to a lack of generators.

The mayor added that 1,500 Future Farmers of America students were stuck in downtown hotel rooms due to Beryl and the subsequent lack of power at the convention center.

SEE ALSO: New CenterPoint Energy map shows repair work hasn't even started in many areas still without power

"We've got 1,500 students in the Marriott and the Hilton, but we've got a ballgame going on down the street," Whitmire said of Tuesday night's Astros game that took place at Minute Maid Park. "We have to get our priorities right, folks."

Whitmire even quipped that the train on the City of Houston's official seal should be replaced with a generator. The lack of power throughout the city was the preeminent topic at City Hall Wednesday morning.

CenterPoint Energy Vice President Brad Tutunjian was grilled by city council members for about an hour about the company's response to the storm. He said this was the largest number of outages they've ever had to deal with at once but added that they were prepared.

Tutunjian said there were 586,000 Houstonians still without power as of Wednesday morning.

So, what does Whitmire think of CenterPoint's performance?

"I'm not in the business of grading. I'm in the business of saying, 'Let's get it done,'" Whitmire said. "We demand that they do better."

SEE ALSO: 'Don't we owe it to our people?' Frustration grows as senior communities struggle without power

There was a lot of discussion about what the company can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

Tutunjian said CenterPoint has drafted a multi-billion dollar resiliency plan to improve things over a three-year period.

It would cost more than $2 billion and is currently being reviewed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

If the plan is approved, customers will have higher bills, per Tutunjian. But that's the future.

What about customers who don't have power right now?

When asked when it would be restored, Tutunjian said crews need to finish inspecting everything before a specific time can be given.

"It's frustrating, but until we have all of that information, it's hard to say," he said.

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