Many people are upset – and confused – why the Houston, Texas, skyline remained lit up even as more than 1.3 million Houstonians were without power during a bitter cold snap.
One Twitter user declared that the Houston skyline was “lit up like it’s Christmas.”
You can see photos of the skyline throughout this article. It shows the brightly lit skyscrapers juxtaposed against surrounding darkness.
Mayor Sylvester Turner wrote on Twitter that he had asked downtown buildings to cut off their lights.
Police Chief Art Acevedo wrote on Twitter, “The failure of our electric grid is a failure of STATE leaders who continue to focus on political theater instead of effective governance. We are in the 21st century and live in one the world’s most developed nations. Addressing this catastrophic failure must be job one!”
That came as photos of the brightly lit skyline caused anger because so many Houston residents lacked power. According to the mayor, on February 16, “As we approach this day there are 1,370,000 customers without power in our region.”
Houston residents shared photos of the skyline on social media and expressed anger. “Ok so we lowered our a/c and kept the minimum usage of electricity all day long because we feel so lucky to have it! But why downtown Houston empty office buildings lit up like nothing is happening?” wrote one.
Another woman wrote, “Hey @ERCOT_ISO can we not sacrifice these lit up empty office buildings in downtown #houston and restore a residential section of the grid instead? People are literally freezing inside their homes all over the city.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Mayor Said the City Can’t Shut Off All Electricity to Downtown Houston
The Houston Chronicle newspaper reported that it “remains unclear” why the skyscrapers still had power. The mayor explained on Twitter that the city can’t cut off all of the power to downtown because some people are sheltering in hotels and the convention center.
He wrote, “I have asked @DowntownHouston Management District buildings that are not being occupied to please cut off their lights and conserve energy. We can not cut all power off as Individuals are staying in hotels and about 800 people are staying in @GRBCC. Our goal is to restore power.”
He added on February 16, “Tonight, there will be freezing precipitation in our area. I am asking Houstonians to please stay off the road tonight and even tomorrow as it will be difficult to travel around on our streets.”
A City Council Member Says the Utility Company Is Working With Businesses to ‘Shut Off Power’ Downtown
Downtown Houston wrote on Twitter, “On behalf of @SylvesterTurner, @HarrisCoJudge, the Downtown District has made an urgent request of DT properties to do everything possible to reduce power demand & only support essential services. We appreciate the DT community working together to minimize electrical consumption.”
Furthermore, according to Houston City Council member Robert Gallegos, writing on Twitter, “This shouldn’t have happen. From update call this morning: CenterPoint is working with businesses to shut off power at locations not critically needed in downtown & Galleria. Not taking down entire circuit but manually shutting off empty buildings that aren’t critical. Conserve!the utility company that supplies Houston announced that it was “working with businesses to shut off power at locations not critically needed.” That’s the utility company that serves Houston.
CenterPoint spokeswoman Alejandra Diaz told the Houston Chronicle that downtown Houston received electricity through an “underground network,” and she said CenterPoint is “working to identify and isolate buildings on a case-by-case basis” to conserve power.
“We, of course, continue to urge customers who do have power to assist with this situation and limit outages by reducing their electricity use to the lowest level possible,” Diaz said to the Chronicle.
A similar issue occurred in Dallas. The mayor wrote on Twitter, “Thank you to our partners at @DtownDallasInc for requesting that our downtown buildings turn off their external lights tonight. I love our skyline at night, but we all need to do our parts to conserve energy.”