Committee reviewing winter freeze response expects to finish by June 15

Chairman says CPS Energy taking more time than SAWS or the city to respond to questions

A city committee formed to find out what went wrong during the February winter storm is close to finishing its investigation.

San Antonio – The chairman of a committee formed by Mayor Ron Nirenberg to determine what went wrong during February’s winter freeze told council members that he expects the committee to finish its work next month.

“I just want to make sure that we’ve got something written and completed by June 15th,” former District 8 city councilman Reed Williams told the city council Thursday.

The Committee on Emergency Preparedness has been meeting since March 5, crafting questions for the city and its two publicly-owned utilities to determine how the city found itself in a situation where some residents spent days without power or water, and what can be done to better prepare in the future.

Williams said the committee has received about 90% of its requests for information back, but that varies entity-by-entity. SAWS has responded to all the questions the committee has posed, and the City of San Antonio nearly all, he said.

CPS Energy, Williams told the council, “is around 50, 52 (percent). The problem there is they’re in a litigation. There’s several of the questions they’re just not going to be able to answer.”

The utility company is currently suing several natural gas suppliers over high prices as well as the power grid’s operator, ERCOT.

Williams told council members he didn’t know if they would get answers to some of the pricing questions that were related to the litigation.

“Even if we got that information, the real problem won’t get solved. The real problem will get solved in the courthouse because that’s where folks took advantage of us and that’s where restitution needs to be made,” Williams said

For its part, CPS Energy told KSAT it has responded to 16 out of 24 questions so far. The remaining responses, a spokeswoman wrote in an email, “are either under development or under internal review.”

Williams said all three entities have been responsive, though many of the responses they’ve received still require more information.

So if we’re somewhere around 90% the first round, then we’re back to about a quarter of the answers being complete because we told each one of the groups as we went through this, ‘you answer a question that might bring up another question or your question might not be complete,’” Williams said.

The committee had planned to post responses to its questions online as it received them. As of Thursday afternoon, only 11 initial or final responses from CPS had been posted, and none of the responses from the city or SAWS.

More on KSAT:

Timeline: How the historic winter storm, Texas blackout cold-stunned the San Antonio area

Winter storm damages? Deadline to apply for federal disaster funds is May 20

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.