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FULL STORY: City Council Lays Blame for Power/Water Crisis

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POSTED: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 6:14pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 1:21pm

EL PASO - The recent deep freeze put utilities on the hot seat at Tuesday's El Paso city council meeting.

With main utilities failing to provide services that El Pasoans pay for, city leaders say 'Shame on you.' They want to make sure the expense of buying power and gushing water doesn't fall on rate payers.

"Theres no doubt, Ms. Wilson, that weather is an act of god, decisions are not," said representative Steve Ortega after city manager Joyce Wilson told the council she does not know if El Paso Electric will be held liable for damages to the city because the freeze was "an act of God."

"I would ask that you refrain from using that statement because it could have been better prepared," said representative Eddie Holguin. He and several other council members called the utilities' performances unacceptable.

"We had probably greater communication difficulties initially with the water utility which is a city agency, and it took us kind of a long time to get in the queue," Wilson said of communication among the entities. She says there will be several investigations into how the crisis was handled, and not just at the city level. They will also see if the electric company was negligent, and if so she says the city will seek damages.

"At this point we've probably experienced 200-plus-thousand dollars worth of damage and repairs," she said.

Representative Ann Morgan Lilly called the El Paso Electric board of directors insensitive.

"But these people that are on the board of directors, don't even live here they didn't feel the pain," she said.

"We actually have been in constant contact with the board and I assure you they are concerned," said El Paso Electric CEO David Stevens. He said they understand all the anger and are evaluating their own performance.

"We're obviously going to be the party people point to initially because electricity does drive a lot of our society now," Stevens said.

But that's not enough for some people.

"There does have to be consequences to these types of companies," said Holguin.

Wilson says she'll give an update on the investigation within the month. Ortega, meanwhile, has proposed creating an independent body of citizens who would take an arms-length look at how the utilities and the city treated the crisis.
 

Comments News Comments

Act of God, Arctic freeze, what ever you want to call it, bottom line is that the utilities dont have the foggiest notion of what PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE is, not only for one temperature extreme, but hottest to coldest. If that were the case, let us rate payers pay less when preventive maintenance is not being done, then normal rates when it is done(IF EVER). Lets hold the utilities feet to the fire on this, as well as Ortega. But OMG, I forgot, its EL Paso, and things dont get done right at all

I'm not sure if the electric company will be found negligent, but El Paso Water is negligent for not having back-up generators to keep pumps running in the event of a power failure. This should have been addressed long before now, and I'm surprised they aren't being investigated! Is it because it's a city agency?

The board needs to review all the finances of all utilities and see were all funds are going. some of the funds need to go into upgrading our old systems so they can withstand this type of weather. where are the monies going is the question that the board should be focusing on and to fix the wrong places that the monies are going to and put it into upgrading all our utilities systems whether they be water electricity or gas.

The board needs to review all the finances of all utilities and see were all funds are going. some of the funds need to go into upgrading our old systems so they can withstand this type of weather. where are the monies going is the question that the board should be focusing on and to fix the wrong places that the monies are going to and put it into upgrading all our utilities systems whether they be water electricity or gas.

We, as a city, knew the bad weather was coming, preparation was key.....EL PASO ELECTRIC DID NOTHING OR VERY LITTLE, AS IT SEEMS, TO PREPARE AND PUNISHED THE ENTIRE CITY DUE TO IT'S LAZINESS.
Learn from it, Fix it, Fire some people; to do nothing and allow this to happen again is the worse crime of all

I understand that not everyone has the ability to protect themselves against the acts of Mother Nature but in El Paso we're usually more concerned about the heat than extremely cold weather. When we had the 100 yr flood a few years ago who did the citizens blame for that? I would like to add that I hope there are other avenues to let homeless people know where to go for shelter other than TV, the internet & phone numbers to call. How many homeless people have access to these types of media?

I don't understand why everyone is so quick to place blame & point fingers. How often does El Paso have this kind of weather. It's unusual an probably won't happen again for a long time. Just realize we had a fluke & get over it. Each of us should prepare better next time like making sure our pipes are covered or insulated, we have enough insulation to keep things protected. It's not just the city, the electric company or the gas company it's the citizens that should take care of ourselves.

Ortega's response is a COP-OUT! Where is your reporting?

WHY PUT BLAME FIX THE PROBLEM BEFORE THE NEXT STORM HITS.ITS SUPPOSED TO BE ON ITS WAY. WHY PUT BLAME ITS OVER I MEAN IF THE CITY GOES AFTER FUNDS TO PAY WHAT ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE THAT LOST FOOD WATER AND PAY THE SCHOOLS WERENT READY FOR IT EITHER WRAP THE PIPES AND FIX THINGS AND GET ON WITH IT.

why doesnt anyone ever listen there are inventions that will cut electrictial and water problems but nobody ever cares,if the city invested just a small portion to help these inventers get their inventions off the ground they would have the solution to their biggest problems the high cost of electricity and water which could be cut drasticialy is on a site called ecopump.net look at this site and demo see if you announce it on the news.TOM RIDDLE

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