Entergy explains schedule for power restoration after Ida

Cleco spokeswoman Jennifer Cahill said the two utilities were working well together to restore power to their customers.

Southeast Louisiana’s two main utility companies, Entergy and Cleco, announced long-awaited power restoration deadlines, five days after Hurricane Ida destroyed much of their transmission systems and distribution.

Those deadlines called for a rapid restoration of service over the next few days, with 90 percent of urban areas of Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish expected to have electricity by next Wednesday, according to Entergy.

Entergy officials were heartened by optimism after a total “catastrophic transmission failure” during the Ida prevented all electricity from flowing into the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain from the regional MISO grid.

The tide began to turn last Wednesday, when the first high-voltage electricity from the grid arrived from a federally regulated transmission line through Slidell and into the New Orleans Power Station east of the New Orleans.

Officials from Entergy and Cleco said the line was used to share electricity with the outside world. On Friday, Entergy announced that it had started a power plant in Washington Parish and put two more high-voltage transmission corridors on the west side of the metro area back into service. Entergy Louisiana CEO Phillip May said the Slidell line is currently used less as a power source than as a “shock absorber,” helping to stabilize the electricity now flowing through stationary parts of the local grid.

“There are times when electricity can be drawn from this line from Cleco, there are times when electricity can be pushed from this line to Cleco,” said May. “What we’re trying to do as we’ve established additional lines is to balance out what we’re seeing in that specific area, because it’s still a system in a delicate balance.”

Cleco spokeswoman Jennifer Cahill said the two utilities were working well together to restore power to their customers. More than half of Cleco’s customers – 50,000 out of 97,000 – had been restored Friday afternoon, with 20,000 customers reconnected since Thursday evening.

Entergy – which serves areas directly affected by the Hurricane Ida Eye Wall, from Grand Isle and Houma south through Laplace and Reserve and north to Hammond – reported that 225,000 of the 904,000 customers had been restored Friday morning, or about 25%.

The timing of the restoration depended first on the transmission system, and then on energizing the individual substations, which receive high-voltage electricity from the transmission system and switch it to low voltage and into the distribution network. feeders and transformers.

The New Orleans damage assessment was completed on time after four days. Entergy has found more than 1,000 damaged utility poles and more than 300 transformers in the city alone. In the affected area, Entergy has identified more than 14,000 damaged poles, more than in Hurricane Laura, which cut power for weeks in Lake Charles last year.

John Hawkins, head of the Entergy distribution team, said the 21,000 workers and engineers who descended on southern Louisiana carried out assessments and repairs at the same time.

“As we work with our transmission team to route sources into each substation, it helps drive where we have power available,” Hawkins said. “And since we have scouts assessing the damage, we have teams doing repairs in parallel, simultaneously. So once we have a source in a station, we can start to attract customers. “

Hawkins also cautioned customers that they are responsible for repairing any blown circuit breakers or other electrical equipment attached to their home and business, using a licensed electrician. He recommended having any damaged equipment repaired before attempting to receive electricity from the grid.

May said people living near critical infrastructure likely got their electricity first.

“If you live near a hospital and you are on this circuit. We started this hospital with food most likely made available to you in New Orleans, ”he said. “For example, when we made electricity available to the Wastewater and Sewer Authority, it lit up a much larger neighborhood. >

Entergy New Orleans CEO Deanna Rodriguez said she had received many questions about why the French Quarter and the CBD got the power back before the neighborhoods. She said it was about providing hotels for crews to restore electricity to homes.

“All of these restaurant workers need to have a place to stay,” she said. “So the CBD welcomes a lot of these workers, unless they have a place to sleep at night, they can’t work their 16 hours a day that we ask them to work. >

Entergy also listed specific neighborhoods in New Orleans, promising that the vast majority of buildings in the following areas would have access to electricity on Friday: the CBD along Poydras, Carrollton, Hollygrove, Gert Town, Fountainbleau, Audubon and some parts of Uptown.

For Saturday, they said power would be back for most residents in the following areas: Canal Street to downtown and to Mid-City, Bayou St. John, North Broad Street, the Warehouse District, the Lower Garden District, St. Thomas, Lakeview, Lakeshore, Lake Vista, around City Park, Pontchartrain Park and Paris Road in New Orleans East.

Entergy has promised catering by Sunday for other areas around Audubon, Broadmoor, Central City, Dillard, other parts of Uptown and large sections of eastern New Orleans.

Entergy said most sections of Gentilly, St. Roch, Marigny and Lower Ninth Ward would be open by Monday, and large sections of New Orleans East may have to wait until Tuesday.

Entergy estimated a longer restoration time of three weeks for New Orleans neighborhoods outside the levee protection system, saying these would be back by September 25.

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Lois Mendez

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