‘We’re coming out of this’: CPS Energy chief says customers seeing relief, but repairs have been challenging

ERCOT to end emergency conditions on Friday

SAN ANTONIO – The power is back on for the majority of CPS Energy customers in San Antonio who have had to battle outages, among other challenges, during this week’s devastating winter storm.

CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams said the number of customers still without power — about 400 as of 10 a.m. Friday — sharply decreased since Thursday as crews prioritized fixing equipment failures for customers who were out of electricity the longest.

That number is down from more than 200,000 customers who went without power for days as temperatures plunged this week.

The majority of those outages were caused by the Energy Reliability Council of Texas’s mandated rolling power outages. ERCOT suspended the outages on Thursday, bringing the first signs of relief to residents in San Antonio.

After ERCOT stopped the mandate, Gold-Williams said the number of customers affected dropped to about 10,000.

The customers who remain without power in San Antonio, she said, are dealing with equipment failure or ice storm damage.

“We’re coming out of this, we’re still not out,” she said during a briefing and a Q&A session on Friday morning. She added that making those repairs has been “complicated” for crews.

She said a CPS Energy technician that was driving to a job site in a bucket truck hit a patch of black ice and rolled over Thursday night. The employee is OK, she said.

CPS Energy’s Chief Customer Engagement Officer Rudy Garza said crews began fixing equipment for the largest cluster of customers who were out of power for the longest period of time.

Gold-Williams and Garza asked the public to continue conserving energy as the demand could have created “catastrophic, system-wide failures.”

ERCOT, a Texas council that regulates the state’s electric grid, had mandated outages earlier in the week to preserve the wider grid, as it was “seconds and minutes” away from monthslong blackouts, according to Bill Magness, the council’s president.

The winter storm led to an unprecedented demand for power in Texas homes, resulting in several sources of power knocked offline.

As of Friday morning, the council said it expects to end emergency conditions since there “is enough generation on the electric system to allow us to begin to return to more normal operating conditions,” according to Dan Woodfin, the senior director of system operations.

Despite ERCOT’s warning that there was still a possibility of some limited outages Thursday evening or Friday morning due to the frigid weather, the council said no additional outages were needed.

More than 190,000 homes and businesses in Texas remained without power as of Friday morning, according to poweroutage.us. That’s down from about 3 million two days earlier, the Associated Press reported.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.