Lawmakers Angry at Slow Power Restoration in East End

Help keeps pouring in from all over the country to help restore power to areas knocked out by Hurricane Ike. Some east side lawmakers called Centerpoint Energy to the mat for not responding to the needs of Magnolia Park. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Tree cutters that accompany utility vehicles bear license plates that don’t say Texas.

“Uh, West Virginia, Braxton County. Mainly what we do, is just clear trees off power lines so they can get the line back up.”

image of cp workers fixing power linesThe vehicles were coming out of Sam Houston Race Park, one of five staging sites now open to facilitate in the restoration. Meanwhile, Center Point Energy workers were busy replacing poles and transformers in lower Magnolia Park. Mike Boone is the company’s service area director. He’s responsible for service inside the loop.

“These poles going down during the storm knocked out service to this whole area and took out roughly two thousand customers and we’ve made good progress in restoring fifty percent or more of the customers already. This restoration effort today will allow us to take care of the back half of the circuit.”

image of Adrian GarciaOne hand to see the operation, were east end lawmakers: CMs Adrian Garcia and James Rodruiguez, state senator Mario Gallegos and new state representatives Armando Walle and Carol Alvarado:

“Common sense would say let’s get to the hardest hit areas first, and then worry about the others. We have so many trees in the East end, we have old infrastructure so, it’s a different situation than the newer neighborhoods on the west side.”

The lawmakers wanted to know what took Center Point so long to restore power there. It lead to a heated exchange.

Gallegos: “What fuels the fire, statements that are made, and pictures in the Chronicle where all the electrical trucks are on the west side.
Alvarado: “They hold us accountable, not you.”
Center Point rep#1: “They’re not all on the west side.”
Gallegos: “Wait a minute. With all due respect, that picture is worth a thousand words.”
Center Point rep#1: “That’s by Greenspoint.”
Gallegos: “No, I know Houston.”
Center Point rep#2: “I’m going to have to cut this off.”
Gallegos: “You’re not cutting anything off. I’m a state senator. I was talking about the picture in the Chronicle.”
Center Point rep#2: “I don’t want to turn this into an argument.”
Alvarado: “It’s not an argument, and don’t cut us off.”
Gallegos: “You can’t cut us off.”
Center Point rep#2: ” I’m not.”

CenterPoint’s Mike Boone said he understood the frustration. He too is waiting for power to return to his house.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.