Winter Storm Outage Maps Show Which San Antonio Areas Lost Power And For How Long
San Antonio’s special Committee on Emergency Preparedness met for the last time Friday before it plans to release a full report later this month. A new series of maps showing how long certain parts of the city went without power during the winter storm were released.
The maps show areas of the county with one of six colors coded by how long circuits went dark during the winter storm. They range from no outages to up to two and half days. The outages were spread throughout CPS Energy’s service area.
Residents all over Texas struggled with outages after ERCOT required utilities to start shedding electricity usage during the winter storm in order to protect the grid from overloading as generation units statewide went down from the cold. Hundreds of circuits in San Antonio and Bexar County were taken offline with the exception of circuits deemed critical.
The utility faced criticism on disbursement of outages from the public under the unconfirmed impression poorer areas were being affected more than others; however CPS Energy officials confirmed that was not the case.
During its final meeting, committee members like chair Reed Williams had concerns over the equitably on how residents were affected.
“I think it’s fair to say two things, one — the interruptible circuits were not equally interrupted. And two, it doesn't seem that any area of the town where people have been concerned about disadvantaged people was proportionally hurt more than other areas of town,” Williams said.
You can see high resolution versions of the maps by San Antonio City Council district and Bexar County Commissioner’s Court precincts here.
Committee members debated whether the outages could have been more equally distributed.
“The system was designed to treat all areas equally,” General Edward Rice said. “In a perfect world this would have been much more homogenous in color. We didn’t live in a perfect world during this storm. The automated system failed and then the manual system was implemented and both of those systems are largely imperfect. One’s imperfect because it failed and one is because you’ve got people trying to scramble to fix a system that’s broken.”
In a previous interview with TPR, CPS Energy’s Grid Operations Manager Paul Barham said the automated system that would cut circuits designed for load shed was unable to handle the amount required and a manual system was introduced.
Barham responded to committee concerns in a Friday filing that said CPS Energy does not track outages or circuits by census tract.
“Our circuit design is organic, and we build infrastructure to address electrical needs solely based on growth within our service area, without any demographic influence or consideration. In addition, a customer’s economic class has no bearing on the load shed process,” Barham said in the filing. “It is based on expedient grid restoration, which is irrespective of economic standing.”
In previous responses to committee member requests, CPS Energy indicated there are nearly 700 circuits and about 270 circuits had power interrupted for at least some of the time during the storm. Nearly 400,000 of CPS Energy’s 866,000 customers were without power leaving nearly 40% of the service areas impacted.
The committee was commissioned by Mayor Ron Nirenberg in February to analyze how CPS Energy, the San Antonio Water System and the City’s Emergency Operations Center handled the storm and kept the public informed throughout its duration.
A full report on the winter storm is expected by June 21 followed by a presentation to the San Antonio City Council. However, the last regular meeting of the City Council is June 17 with no further meetings scheduled until the beginning of August.
Mayor Nirenberg’s office said he may call a special meeting to review the results the week of June 21.
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