Long-awaited answers on the San Antonio winter storm response are starting to arrive, but the public will have to wait for the full report
A report on San Antonio’s response to the winter storm is expected to be ready in mid-June, more than four months before the public fully sees the shortcomings of the energy crisis that has left many residents without power and water. for days in February. .
Although answers to questions posed by a special committee overseeing the process are beginning to arrive, many answers remain. San Antonio City Council members expressed concern over communication gaps on Thursday, and on Friday responses from the San Antonio water system and the city of San Antonio were released.
The committee, made up of several council members, former city councilor Reed Williams, former deputy criminal district prosecutor Lisa Tatum and retired Air Force General Edward Rice submitted more than 100 questions to CPS Energy, the San Antonio Water System, the City of San Antonio and its Emergency Operations Center
During Thursday’s council meeting, the committee chair, former District 8 councilor Reed Williams, briefed council members on the information gained at the time.
“We certainly have to answer questions as to whether parts of our city were overloaded by this terrible event,” said Williams. “… I’m not going to give up on getting that answer; it is not there yet but I will continue to work on it.
Current District 8 councilor Manny Pelaez, who also sits on the committee, said he was frustrated and disappointed with the way information was circulating during the crisis and the information that was coming in.
“We have to figure out how to be more agile. I keep telling people that McDonalds does a better job of telling everyone the McRib is finally back so we do it to warn people that disaster is imminent, ”he said.
The early morning global energy crisis of February 15 stems from emergency requests from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which began to impose power outages statewide to keep the Texas power grid from being overwhelmed. while several power generation units have disconnected due to the cold. time and plants freeze over.
District 7 councilor Ana Sandoval said the electricity grid was generally reliable, but could not withstand adverse events like the winter storm.
“The grid is reliable, CPS power is extremely reliable, but reliability means you’re ready for scheduled events, you’re ready for scheduled shutdowns, for routine maintenance,” Sandoval said. . “
Data provided by CPS Energy shows that some unidentified circuits have not been powered for 70 hours. The utility, which uses natural gas as fuel for some of its power plants, was forced to buy more natural gas in part because its coal-fired plant was out of service during part of the storm.
Williams told city council on Thursday that CPS Energy customers deserve to know if they are a circuit prone to power loss in an emergency.
“Let’s say you have someone on dialysis or you have someone who needs an oxygen machine; they need to understand what kind of circuit they’re on – so we have it, do we have it? No, we don’t. Williams said. “There are security issues around this – we have a lot of bad people who might want to get their hands on this information and use it in some way or another.”
Late Thursday evening, the city’s website on the investigation was updated with responses from the San Antonio water system.
The documents published by the committee contain text messages between CPS Energy and SAWS officials.
An exchange on the evening of February 15 highlighted an apparent lack of water pressure from the SAWS hampering the ability of a gas-fired CPS power plant at Braunig Lake to cool its generators.
“Steve, we have low drinking water pressure at our Brauning site and we will lose units if we cannot achieve normal pressure. Any help is greatly appreciated, ”former CPS Energy COO Chris Eugster told SAWS counterpart Steve Clouse in a text message.
To which Clouse replied, “We are fighting in the downtown area which is bleeding through the PRVs to the Brauning area. We are working hard to return that pressure to you. “
This text was followed by Clouse saying, “It’s going to be a really tough night. Tomorrow everyone’s frozen pipes will start showing breaks all over the place. This is our next problem. “
A few hours later, in the early morning hours of February 16, other texts showed SAWS requests to CPS Energy to remove SAWS pumping stations from circuits affected by the power cuts.
On Friday, the committee began to consider responses from the City of San Antonio and the SAWS.
Some information is still lacking and operational questions about CPS Energy plants have remained unanswered. Williams said background information is needed to see how much remains to be discovered.
“We just have to understand how the factories worked. We can’t just say they didn’t perform well, we have to understand where and why they didn’t perform well, ”Williams said on Friday.
The committee is expected to consider the SAWS responses at its meeting next week.
TPR was founded and is supported by our community. If you appreciate our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your support donation today.