NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council has called for an independent investigation after it was revealed that Entergy cut power to more people than was necessary during last week’s rolling blackouts.
At Tuesday’s special committee meeting, the company that oversees a number of electrical companies say Entergy New Orleans was instructed to cut 26 megawatts of power to prevent a complete system breakdown.
Instead, Entergy cut 81 megawatts, three times more than required.
“We left people in the cold that didn’t need to be left in the cold. Businesses shut down, there were restaurants full of people because it was the evening of Mardi Gras. They were finally able to make some money during this pandemic and had to shut down because they lost power and customers had to walk out of their businesses,” said Council member-at-large Helena Moreno.
“I am just sitting here seething and bewildered at the same time. I have never heard of this large of a number,” said Councilman Jay Banks.
And he and Moreno demanded answers.
“Somebody made a decision, so somebody please own that now. Explain what happened and why it did because this is totally unacceptable and I’m hearing crickets,” said Banks.
Entergy cut power to more than 25,000 customers.
Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen expressed frustrations that some of her elderly constituents went without power.
“One-hundred and 60 senior citizens in my district that live at Peace Lake Towers were impacted by this,” Nguyen stated. “Finding out today that maybe those senior citizens did not have to suffer that night it is extremely disturbing.”
Entergy representatives struggled to provide answers.
Officials say they did so to help prevent a complete system breakdown. All of Louisiana’s power companies did so at the direction of MISO -- a group that oversees electrical power companies in 15 states.
CEO David Ellis says it takes a while for the company to gather all of the information following an event like this.
“When we received the order to curtail, we had a number of load pockets that we were to address and within those load pockets some of our breakers must have been lifted multiple times, said Ellis. “We’re trying to walk through all of this detail and understand the exact amount and exactly how that happened to prevent that from happening again.”
John Hawkins of Entergy Louisiana told the council they were investigating. After hearing from all of the council members, Ellis says they will have a report to the council in 30 days.
In Texas, preliminary reports show that lack of weatherization caused the failure of natural gas, coal, wind and nuclear power generation.
Council members say the lack of communication by Entergy to customers left them wondering about how long they would be without power during unusually cold weather.
“Concern and confusion spread among families unsure of just how long they were going to be stuck in the cold,” Moreno stated.
Becky Knox of Entergy New Orleans said they are working to communicate faster and better.
“I agree with you that it is critical, communication is absolutely essential to provide, the customer, not necessarily to your point about volume, but more to provide them with information when it matters,” said Knox.
Copyright 2021 WVUE. All rights reserved.