What’s changed since February 2021 to prevent another power grid failure? KSAT Explains
After the snow and ice of February 2021 had melted and power and water service finally returned, catastrophe turned to criticism. Lawmakers and power providers have since gone to work in hopes that it doesn't happen again.
February 2021 winter storm prompts some San Antonio residents to better prepare for severe weather
The San Antonio community won’t soon forget the winter storm in February 2021 that shut down the area for days. Still, it helped many become better prepared for severe weather after days of uncertainty.
CPS Energy attempting to block information on natural gas purchases from latest winter storm
CPS Energy officials this week declined to release information related to natural gas purchases made ahead of the latest winter storm, claiming in a letter sent to the Texas Attorney General that the information is confidential.
Top CPS Energy leadership taking pay cut would show solidarity with customers, says San Antonio professor
As a proposed CPS Energy rate increase heads to the San Antonio City Council for a vote this week, some customers are saying not so fast. Many who left in the dark during last year’s winter storm are asking why utility leaders aren’t taking a pay cut instead.
4 things we’ve learned since February’s deadly winter storm
It’s been six months since the deadly February winter storm left millions across the state without power for days, and many questions about what went wrong remain unanswered. The KSAT Explains team and the Defenders have been closely following the fallout of the storm. We take a look at four things we've learned so far.
CPS Energy seeks to block release of complaints against president, CEO Paula Gold-Williams
Attorneys hired by CPS Energy have attempted to block the release of complaints filed against President & CEO Paula Gold-Williams by members of the utility’s senior legal team, claiming their contents are confidential and should remain out of public view.
Complaints against embattled Gold-Williams preceded senior legal team’s exodus from CPS Energy
CPS Energy’s senior legal team lodged internal complaints against its President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams in the weeks before the attorneys resigned from the utility, internal records obtained this week by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm.
As customers suffered in the cold, Gold-Williams and other CPS Energy leaders drafted letter in support of management
During the third day of February’s bitter freeze, as hundreds of thousands of CPS Energy customers tried to survive without power, President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams and other senior leaders of the utility drafted a letter of support for her and management, according to internal emails obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders.
San Antonio couple forced to pay rent on apartment too damaged to live in after February winter storm
Earlier this month, Tiffany Carmony and her fiancé paid rent for their first floor unit at The Redland, an apartment complex on the far North Side, even though they haven’t lived there since Feb. 15.
When the power went out, Texas oil and gas regulators rushed to defend the industry’s image
When the power went out for Marsha Hendler on Feb. 15, she rushed to her downtown San Antonio office to ride out the winter storm. Thankful to find the electricity and heat still on, she typed out an email to the elected officials who regulate her small, independent oil and gas company.
Sweeping legislation to overhaul state’s electricity market in response to winter storm heads to Texas House after Senate’s unanimous approval
The Texas Senate on Monday unanimously approved a sweeping bill that would overhaul the state’s electricity industry and infrastructure, including mandating that power plants prepare for extreme weather and outlawing risky indexed retail electric plans. Senate Bill 3, filed by Republican state Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, now heads to the Texas House where its prospects are uncertain. Experts say the process of retrofitting the state’s power plants for winter could be difficult and costly, but not impossible, depending on the types of upgrades eventually mandated by regulators. Known as TERC, the board coordinates state energy regulators, electricity generators and the natural gas fuel industry to ensure reliable gas distribution for electricity. The PUC regulates the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s main power grid.
Almost 70% of ERCOT customers lost power during winter storm, study finds
As the updated death toll from February’s winter storm reached 111 deaths last week, the severity of its full force has continued to come into focus. AdThe Electric Reliability Council of Texas manages the state’s main power grid, which represents 90% of Texas’ electric load and serves more than 26 million customers, according to the agency. Black Texans were “modestly more likely” to have lost power than white Texans, according to the study. The company wants lawmakers to create a revenue stream to Berkshire through an additional charge on Texans’ power bills. Ad“In 2011, when we were asking questions about that winter storm, we were receiving promises and commitments that winterization would occur so that sort of thing wouldn't happen again,” he said.
Applying for FEMA winter storm aid? Here’s how the agency’s virtual inspections work.
Figueroa said people can apply for FEMA assistance online or by phone if their insurance didn’t cover all damages or if they don’t have insurance. AdFigueroa is reminding people that FEMA aid does not cover the following:Food lossInsurance deductiblesElectricity and water bills. Once you for disaster assistance, make sure you save the nine digit pin code you are given. To get more information or apply for assistance, visit the FEMA disaster assistance website or call 1-800-621-3362. AdAfter applying, you may stay on DisasterAssistance.gov to create a personal online disaster assistance account to stay in touch with FEMA.
SA City Council approves $500M line of credit for CPS Energy as part of multifaceted strategic plan
The $500 million line of credit is part of a multifaceted strategic plan intended to protect customers from high costs. CPS Energy officials will be seeking federal and state financial and policy assistance, regulatory intervention and other avenues, such as negotiations. CPS Energy says it’s facing charges of more than $1 billion for the power and natural gas it purchased during the February winter storm when prices for both skyrocketed. AdThere was little discussion during the meeting about how the financing would eventually affect CPS Energy customers. “The utility will only utilize this line of credit when it is needed and, if utilized, the debt will have no negative financial impact on the City or customers’ bills, and can be accommodated within CPS Energy’s existing financial plan,” CPS Energy said in a news release.
CPS Energy senior director sought to keep water pump outage information confidential, records show
SAN ANTONIO – A CPS Energy senior director sought to keep information about pump station power outages confidential last month as the city’s water situation worsened, according to emails obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders. CPS Energy officials this week defended Kruse’s email, claiming utility infrastructure could have been the target of threats had the information it contained not remained confidential. AdRelated: CPS Energy uses a college student for weather forecasting. CPS Energy officials refused multiple requests from the Defenders to make Kruse or President & CEO Paula Gold-Williams available for an interview. AdBut the records released by SAWS also show that messaging from CPS Energy was, at times, disjointed during the early stages of the outages.
Funds still available as Bexar County launches second phase of Plumbing Assistance Program
BEXAR COUNTY – A couple of weeks have passed since the devastating winter storm that swept through South Texas, but many residents in suburban cities and outlying areas in Bexar County are still without running water in their homes, according to county officials. Just last week, Bexar County launched a reimbursement program that offered up to $1,500 per household to aid residents with repair costs for broken pipes and plumbing issues caused by the winter storm. RELATED: Bexar County launches plumbing assistance program for residents following winter stormStill, many households in suburban cities and areas of unincorporated Bexar County are without water and are struggling with arranging a plumber due to their remote locations, according to officials. Those who do not have access to the internet should call 210-631-5000 for the reimbursement program, or 210-631-6000 for the “I need a plumber” program. AdRead also:These businesses are donating to winter storm relief efforts in San Antonio, across TexasDevastating winter storm leaves behind trail of destruction for San Antonio-area nonprofit
How severely ill children survived the Texas winter storms at home with the help of San Antonio pediatric health care workers
SAN ANTONIO – While each of us was living in our own deep freeze drama during the snowstorms of February, the pediatric staff at UT Health San Antonio were fighting their own battle against the forces of nature. With the power out, bitterly cold houses and no water, the pediatric team for the most medically complex pediatric population began to worry. All of the equipment requires electricity,” said Dr. Wisdeen Wu, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio. AdShe also takes her hat off to her patients’ families, who she says were very resourceful under stress. ALSO ON KSAT.COM: Nurtured with faith, a community garden in San Antonio springs back from the devastating winter storm
More than $600 million in agricultural losses accounted for so far, Texas A&M economist says
SAN ANTONIO – Losses in the agriculture industry brought on by the winter storm in Texas are now estimated to be $605 million, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Dr. David Anderson, the education agency’s livestock economist, said included in that figure are $228 million in losses to the livestock and poultry industries, as well as the animals who died due to the cold. RELATED: Texas Farm Bureau, others assessing winter storm damage“That probably ate up a lot more cost than they were expecting in producing the birds this year,” Anderson said. Full Screen 1 / 6 Image courtesy of Bryan Bettice, Adkins, Texas. Many had pumps that froze up, and damaged pipe systems now need repair to get water to their cattle.
CPS Energy sued by San Antonio man for wife’s death during winter storm
SAN ANTONIO – A lawsuit filed in Bexar County district court this week accuses CPS Energy of causing a San Antonio woman’s death after power to her home went out during a prolonged winter storm last month. A CPS Energy spokesman, John Moreno, issued a brief statement about the lawsuit. “CPS Energy doesn’t comment on active litigation, however, we will handle as appropriate through the legal process,” Moreno said. The wrongful death suit also accuses CPS Energy of negligence and gross negligence. CPS Energy faces $1 billion bill for winter weather power crisisCPS Energy will withhold winter storm charges while seeking funds to alleviate costs
Harlandale ISD trustee dies caught in statewide dialysis crisis
“Sixteen to 24 hours that you would get throughout the week reduced to only four hours,” Camarillo said. Power outages and water shortages, in addition to so many dialysis patients coming in, forced many treatment centers to limit each dialysis session to only two hours. In anticipation of power outages and severe weather, we coordinated for approximately one-third of our patients to receive their dialysis treatment over the weekend in advance of the storm. Dialysis treatment services were available to all USRC San Antonio-based patients throughout the storm. Further, the USRC Pleasanton Road dialysis clinic had access to both power and water and provided dialysis treatment services throughout the storm.
Texan taxpayers affected by winter storms have two extra months to file their returns this year, IRS says
SAN ANTONIO – The Internal Revenue Service is extending tax season deadlines for Texans affected by last week’s winter storms. Individuals and businesses included in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recent disaster declaration now have until June 15, 2021, to file their tax returns and pay anything they owe to the IRS. For example, individual tax returns and quarterly estimated income tax payments -- typically due on April 15 -- are now due on June 15. Affected taxpayers can deduct personal property losses not covered by their insurance or through other reimbursements, according to the IRS. For more information on the IRS’s changes for those affected by the winter storms, click here.
Time is ticking for pet owners looking for animals lost in winter storm last week
SAN ANTONIO – During the unprecedented winter weather last week, many animals were lost or left out in the cold, and the small team at Animal Care Services was able to save hundreds of animals. Joe Hernandez waited in line outside ACS on Monday afternoon, hoping to reunite with his two dogs, which he lost during the storm. “The biggest thing about a microchip is knowing the microchip number. Allan said a skeleton crew braved frigid temperatures and bad road conditions to respond to nonstop calls for abandoned and lost animals. If you have lost your pet, Allan says you should do the following:As for Hernandez, he’s been assured his dogs are waiting patiently for him.
Here's how Texans can apply for federal help to recover from the devastating winter storm
Texans in certain counties whose property was damaged by this month's deadly winter storm can apply for federal assistance for things not covered by insurance. That is in addition to the 77 counties President Joe Biden’s administration included in a major disaster declaration this weekend. Texans without insurance in counties under Biden’s major disaster declaration can go ahead and apply for federal aid. AdEarl Armstrong, a FEMA spokesperson, said that eligible Texans should file their insurance claim first then shortly after apply for disaster assistance. You can also visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in person by looking for the nearest location here.
San Antonio breweries giving back to community amid water-boil advisories
SAN ANTONIO – If this wild week hasn’t already driven you to your local brewery, maybe now is a convenient time to go. Some San Antonio breweries have temporarily stopped making beer to provide residents some quality filtered water, given the shortage caused by the wintry weather this past week. The San Antonio Water System first issued the boil water notice for the city on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Blue Star Brewery decided amid water shortages the right thing to do was to give back to the community. RELATED: Several San Antonio breweries offering free, clean water
Papa John’s steps up to serve community by donating pizzas to SA Zoo employees, Cortland View at TPC Apartments
To ensure the community had a place to find a warm meal, Papa John’s franchise owners in San Antonio stepped up and flew in an emergency truck driver from Phoenix to Dallas to deliver food to San Antonio stores. The well pump is responsible for the water supply for many animal habitats in the zoo this same water eventually flows into the San Antonio Riverwalk, stated the San Antonio Zoo. Roth mentioned how the challenging road conditions were also a struggle, and made it difficult for essential zoo crew to commute to work. “Thank you in advance for your generous contributions,” stated the San Antonio Zoo. From left to right: Cortland View at TPC office manager stands with Papa John's San Antonio employee.
Some San Antonians facing life or death situations due to lack of electricity, water
We need the electricity, but we need the water too, and there’s no way for us to dialyze,” Allen said. AdThe effects of the winter storm on the electrical grid this week have CPS Energy and other Texas energy providers overwhelmed. CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams said the energy supply during the winter storm couldn’t meet the demand. She said a third of the system would not be taking down as it’s a critical circuit. Concerns about SAWS pumps taken off the critical circuit have dialysis patients like Allen in distress with no access to water.
‘Avoided a catastrophic blackout’: ERCOT head defends decision to shed power from grid
ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texans. SAN ANTONIO – Top officials from ERCOT, the Texas council that regulates the electric grid, defended the decision to shed power and initiate rolling outages early Monday, claiming it prevented a possible indefinite blackout across the state. That decision left millions of Texans without power and persisted for a third day Wednesday, as outages remained prolonged in San Antonio and other parts of the state. 😷 (@Ron_Nirenberg) February 16, 2021Local and state officials have heaped much of the blame for the prolonged power outages on ERCOT. Magness conceded there was no clear timeline on when the power grid would return to normal and that the prolonged outages had to be maintained much longer than anyone would have wanted.
SA residents angered by ‘misinformation’ from CPS Energy on power restoration following winter storm
SAN ANTONIO – As Lea Ann Tinney shivered through a Monday without power inside her home in the Government Hill neighborhood, she consulted a CPS Energy power outage map that stated only six customers in her 78208 zip code were affected. Tinney then walked outside and counted at least five other homes that were without power at that very moment. Gold-Williams and a utility spokesman defended CPS’s response to the winter storm, pointing out that it was a significant weather event followed by a prolonged period of freezing temperatures. “CPS Energy is going to continue to analyze its performance, how we did, what else we could do, but there are just natural limitations to the system that normally works extremely well 360 days a year,” Gold-Williams said. A utility spokesman said Tuesday afternoon that it had advised customers to begin conserving energy usage as early as last Wednesday, ahead of the storm that hit Sunday night.