U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia Demands Answers from CenterPoint

U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia Demands Answers from CenterPoint

U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia is tired of feeling left in the dark by CenterPoint Energy — literally and figuratively.

On Wednesday morning, the congresswoman, whose district spans much of Houston’s eastern edge, sent a strongly worded letter to the energy company’s CEO, Jason P. Wells, demanding answers as to why more than a million Houston residents were left without power two days after Hurricane Beryl struck the city.

“I am writing today to inquire about CenterPoint’s preparedness for Hurricane Beryl, which has left millions of your Houston-area customers without power for three days,” Garcia wrote. “With scorching temperatures in the region, CenterPoint’s failure to restore power more quickly is creating a public health crisis that requires people to recover from a hurricane while surviving extreme heat.”

In the three-page letter, the congresswoman asks several questions, including: Why were so many workers deployed the day after the storm ended and not the same day?; Why was the outage tracking map never put back online in the two months following the derecho event?; and What is CenterPoint doing to improve reliability? How will this be prevented in the future?

“We just want to make sure that CenterPoint knows, loud and clear, that people are upset,” Garcia said. “There are 1.3 million people still waiting. They need to know: Hey guys, this is Houston. This is not our first rodeo. We’ve been through this before. Why do we have to go through this every time we do an event?”

She lamented that CenterPoint seems eager to share news when its quarterly profits hit more than $1 billion, “but we don’t know what they’re planning to do to get our electricity up in at least two days.”

(Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Landing)

Logan Anderson, a spokesman for CenterPoint, declined to comment on the letter Wednesday afternoon. “The company intends to respond directly to Congresswoman Garcia,” Anderson wrote in an email.

“I would consider a congressional hearing on this at a later date, but I would like to hear a response first and sit down and talk to them,” Garcia said Wednesday.

Her goal, she said, is to identify barriers that prevent the energy company from better serving its constituents.

“They should have found a solution to make people’s lives easier and restore power immediately,” she said. “We’re the fourth largest city and we don’t know how to restore power after a storm? Seriously?”

And, she asked, what will happen next time, during an even stronger storm, if the energy giant is not held accountable for putting citizens in the compromised position of being without power during a heat advisory?

“If we can’t handle the winds and rain that we’ve had in those 10 hours, how are you going to prepare for the next storm that could be a Category 3, 4 or – dare I say – 5, with real storms and rain for two or three days?” she asked.

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