How to keep your electricity on during hurricane season



This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Beta, center, in the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch is in effect Saturday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength. A storm surge watch and a tropical storm watch are also in effect for the area during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season. (NOAA via AP)

Joel Valdes, Staff Writer

HOUSTON- Although hurricane Laura missed the Houston area earlier this month, the tropical storm warnings that are currently active have made it clear that we are still in the middle of hurricane season. There is a higher likelihood of turbulent weather, which also increases a home’s chance of losing electricity if the electric wires or meters are damaged. With that being the case, it is important for individuals to know their rights as consumers for keeping electricity on in their homes.

Centerpoint is the electric company that services the Houston area. Regardless of the electric provider in the home, they are the ones who are responsible for delivering the electricity and maintaining the equipment. They offer the ability for certain meters to be prioritized and listed as “Critical Care”. If there is a power outage, those meters are the first ones to have electricity restored. In addition, the energy providers are not able to disconnect power due to nonpayment for meters with that classification.

So how does one apply to gain that classification, and what are the requirements to be approved?

The Critical Care program is designed to benefit people with assisted living who require electricity in order to stay alive. The form is available on Centerpoint’s website and there is a version for residential and commercial meters. Physician approval is required for residential applications.

Centerpoint spokesperson Leticia Lowe told Chron that there are currently only around 250 meters in their area that are listed as Critical Care. If a home has a backup source of electricity, the application has an increased chance of being denied by Centerpoint.

If an application is rejected by them, an individual can file a complaint through the Public Utilities Commission of Texas for a second opinion. If the PUCT agrees that Centerpoint did not make the correct decision, they are able to make an order for them to change the status of the electric meter.

So what happens if your request is still denied, or you are not eligible for this program? The good news is Centerpoint has a quick response time for power restoration in case power goes out. Even though they may be slowed down during mass outages, most individuals can expect to have power back on in their homes within a few hours the same day if equipment is damaged. Centerpoint also has an outage tracker to see how much of the service area has power, and shows the expected restoration time for homes in case of an outage.