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San Antonio Mayor Creates Special Committee To Analyze City’s Response To Winter Storm, Energy Crisis

Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is creating a committee of council members to review what went wrong at CPS Energy, the San Antonio Water System and emergency responses during the statewide winter storm and energy crisis.

The committee will be responsible for reviewing the preparedness, communication to the public since the storm began and resilience for any future storms. In a memo to the City Council, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the community deserves answers.

While the water and power utilities will likely conduct their own reviews, Nirenberg said this new committee is meant to conduct a full public accountability on all fronts.

“Obviously there will be some internal reviews of processes at both of the utilities and even within emergency operations within the city,” Nirenberg said. “But that does not supplant the importance of a public and independent review of the community response.”

Public outrage for the energy crisis has flown in all directions Including towards the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (the operator of the state’s power grid that mandated the rolling blackouts), city leaders, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and local utilities CPS Energy and SAWS.

More than 320,000 San Antonio households and businesses were without power last week, some for several days. Up to 30% of SAWS customers experienced disruption in water service ranging from low pressure, no water at all or busted pipes. In some parts of the county, SAWS pumping stations experienced power outages as CPS Energy initiated its rolling outages.

“Our hope here is that we will get a full accounting of what happened, what improvements can be made and recommendations sent to the SAWS board, the CPS board and the San Antonio City Council,” Nirenberg said.

The committee includes four members of the City Council: District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia, District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez and District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry.

It will be chaired by a past member of the council, former District 8 Councilman Reed Williams. Two other appointees include Lisa Tatum, who is a former assistant criminal district attorney, and retired General Edward Rice Jr.

“All of the members of the committee have commanded universal respect and have experience in various aspects of the task at hand,” the mayor said.

There’s not a timeline for the committee’s work, but in the council memo, Nirenberg said the work would be done as “comprehensively and expeditiously as possible” while maintaining necessary thoroughness.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules