Entergy, Cleco officials warn recovery of power grid ‘will be a marathon’

Hurricane Ida caused widespread damage to Louisiana's power grid on Aug. 29.
Hurricane Ida caused widespread damage to Louisiana's power grid on Aug. 29.(Entergy New Orleans)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Restoration of Louisiana power grids ravaged by Hurricane Ida will not come quickly, officials with Entergy New Orleans warned Monday (Aug. 30).

“This will be a marathon, not a sprint,” Entergy New Orleans president and CEO Deanna Rodriguez said in a statement that reported energy outages for approximately 895,000 Entergy customers in the wake of Sunday’s Category 4 storm.

“We’re working as safely and quickly as we can, but recovery will vary depending on the damage incurred and its location. We must all be prepared for the recovery to take some time.”

How much time was the question at the forefront of the state’s electricity customers, particularly with a heat advisory taking effect Tuesday, with heat index values of at least 100 degrees projected in New Orleans and air conditioning a quickly fading memory for most.

“At 150 mph, Hurricane Ida’s winds were incredibly devastating,” Entergy Louisiana president and CEO Phillip May said. “We continue looking at options to restore power to those parishes that are out.”

Entergy said “an anticipated storm team” of more than 20,000 had begun assessing storm damage throughout the state to help formulate the most efficient plan of attack for restoration efforts. The company did not detail its initial findings, but confirmed that damage to eight high-voltage lines took out power to Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes.

The collapse of a transmission tower in Avondale also was highly problematic, causing the tower’s conductor and wires to submerge into the Mississippi River.

The company warned customers that, “based on historical restoration times,” customers in the direct path of a storm as intense as Hurricane Ida could experience outages for more than three weeks. While 90 percent of customers will be restored sooner, customers in the hardest-hit areas should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages.”

The outlook was not much brighter for Cleco customers. Clint Robichaux, manager of distribution operations support, said his company would offer more restoration updates on Tuesday. Its initial efforts, he said, were focused on speeding restoration to critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water/sewage systems.

“From there, we will move to the circuits with the largest number of customers until power is restored to all affected customers,” Robichaux said in a statement.

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