Restoration work by Cleco Power, a subsidiary of Cleco Corp., was in full gear Sunday after Hurricane Rita left more than half of the company's utility customers without power. Initial estimates are the majority of customers should have power restored within a week.
As of 4 p.m. Sunday, Cleco Power had restored electricity to 41,638, or 30 percent, of the 136,584 customers affected by Rita, the second hurricane to hit the utility's territory within a month. None of Cleco's generating stations was damaged by Rita.
"Rita was a large storm that hit our entire service territory, but our initial assessments show the damage does not approach what we suffered from Hurricane Katrina," said Michael Madison, president and CEO of Cleco Corp. "We expect to have power restored to the majority of our customers within the next week, although it may take longer to reach customers in some of the more remote areas. We have approximately 1,800 workers from other utilities and contracting firms helping us recover from this storm."
Approximately 600 miles of transmission lines, roughly half of Cleco Power's transmission system, were affected by the storm, and damage assessment is continuing today. "The good news is our initial review shows minor structural damage to our transmission system. Most of the problems are tree-related such as trees leaning on transmission lines," Madison said.
When Rita hit, Cleco still had approximately 2,000 customers out in the North Shore area who were unable to accept power to their homes due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. "We're officially wrapping up work on Katrina today, ending the longest restoration effort in the company's 70-year history," Madison said.
Cleco Corp. is an energy services company headquartered in Pineville, Louisiana.