Texas Power Outages Hinder Hurricane Beryl Recovery

1 week ago About 1.65 million customers remained without power in Texas on Wednesday, two days after Hurricane Beryl made landfall, as progress to restore electricity was slow the night before, hampering efforts to quickly restart critical oil infrastructure.

The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday near the coastal town of Matagorda, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Houston, lashing Texas with heavy winds that knocked down power lines and damaged property.

Reinsurance broker Gallagher Re estimated that U.S. economic losses from Beryl would be at least $1 billion as damage assessments continue. Weather forecasting firm AccuWeather issued a preliminary estimate of $28 billion to $32 billion in U.S. damage and economic loss.

About 1.35 million of the 1.65 million people without power are customers of CenterPoint Energy, the state’s largest provider.

CenterPoint said on Wednesday it had restored power to some 600,000 customers in the previous 24 hours, adding that it remains confident it will restore 1 million customers by the end of the day.

Freeport LNG, the second-largest U.S. liquefied natural gas terminal, was preparing to resume processing by Thursday, two sources close to the matter said, as power was being restored. But LNG exports from the terminal are not expected to restart until the port, which is operating under restrictions, fully reopens for vessel traffic.

A spokesperson for Freeport LNG told Reuters the company “intends to resume liquefaction when post-storm assessments are complete and it is safe to do so.”

Ports along the Texas Gulf Coast, which had shut ahead of the hurricane, continued reopening on Wednesday, some with restrictions.

The Port of Freeport said it was open and operating, while a shipping agency said certain traffic restrictions remained in place. The port moved its first ship on Wednesday, with four more planned through the day, shipping agents added.

Port facilities were running on backup power as utility crews worked to restore electricity, the port officials said on Tuesday.

The Port of Houston said its eight public terminals had resumed operations on Tuesday for vessel operations, and on Wednesday morning returned to normal start times for gate operations.

Houston Pilots, which provides services to ships entering or departing the port, moved 14 ships inbound on Tuesday and was expecting 25 inbound and five outbound vessels on Wednesday.

At the Port of Galveston, cruise ships began to sail while cargo operations were expected to resume on Wednesday. The port experienced relatively minor damage and some power outages, said Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director.

Refineries and offshore production sites saw limited damage and largely returned to normal operations.

Some customers have questioned whether CenterPoint had enough crews in place ahead of the storm. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said an analysis would be conducted after power is restored.

CenterPoint said its crews were positioned where they would be safe when the storm hit and were deployed on Monday, when the landfall site was known, as soon as it was safe to do so.

With local stores running out of power generators for sale, many Texans resorted to their trucks to power appliances and small equipment at home.

Following power outages from Beryl, a Ford Motor spokesman said the automaker saw a 1300% increase from customers in the Houston region generating at least 1 kilowatt of power with their built-in F-150 pickup truck mobile generators, with people doing so numbering in the hundreds on July 8.