“That will be a significant improvement, but in view of the fact that there are 1.3 million customers without power in this Houston region, we still have a way to go,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner during a Feb. 16 news conference providing an update on the ongoing winter weather conditions affecting the Houston region.
Key to getting power to Houston residents lies in restoring power generation across the area, which is part of a 25-million-customer grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation governed by a board of directors and overseen by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature.
CenterPoint Energy, meanwhile, handles the transmission and distribution systems.
“As soon as we get the generation back on across the Greater Houston area, you will see the power delivered to the customers very efficiently, very safely, as safe as we can,” said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy, during the news conference.
Critical care residents and senior citizens still without power are asked to notify 311. The city of Houston has asked its 311 operators to work from the office in order to be more responsive to those requests.
Meanwhile, roughly 800 people are now using the George R. Brown Convention Center as a warming center, maxing the space out due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, Turner said. Those needing a warming center are being directed elsewhere, such as Gallery Furniture, which is offering locations on North Freeway and Hwy. 99 in Richmond, and Lakewood Church on Southwest Freeway.
According to U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, the National Association of Christian Churches at Air Center Boulevard is also offering a warming center.
This comes as the Houston Fire Department has reported over 2,200 calls for service over the last 24 hours. Of those, 56 have been for fires, while another 90 have been for carbon monoxide poisoning. Two Houstonians have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Do not use grills; do not use propane heaters or generators too close to the home because carbon monoxide is a definite risk,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said. “It’s a silent killer.”
In addition, the city of Houston continues to keep a close eye on the water pressure of its distribution system. A boil order has not been planned.