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Nppd Crew Ida

Massive Mutual Aid Efforts Continue in Wake of Ida

Sept. 3, 2021
Hundreds of thousands of people are counting on these crews to get the power flowing again so that they can begin to rebuild their lives and find some sort of normalcy.

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about the mammoth task Southern Louisiana’s electricity providers, especially Entergy, face in the wake of Hurricane Ida. I recognized investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and electric cooperatives (co-ops) for the outpouring of support they are providing through mutual assistance. I owe a huge apology to public power utilities for not including them in my blog. I, better than many, should have remembered the great service public power provides to nearly 50 million people across the country. I live in Northeast Oklahoma, which is home to public power utility Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), and I know firsthand how important the utility is to the communities it serves because GRDA provides electricity to my community. In addition to providing power, public power is a great partner when it comes to community development, philanthropic programs and much more. And, like IOUs and co-ops, public power utilities are ready to lend a hand whenever and wherever they’re needed.

According to an article published on the American Public Power Association's website, public power utilities deployed 65 crews and 300 personnel to Louisiana and Mississippi from the following nine states:

  • Missouri
  • Florida
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Oklahoma
  • Georgia
  • Nebraska
  • Kentucky

Many of the utility crews arrived before Ida and were ready to get to work as soon as it was safe to so. They are working in some of the hardest hit areas alongside local utility crews as well as those that are also offering mutual assistance. I noticed when checking APPA’s FaceBook and Twitter pages that several public power crews are in hard hit Houma, Louisiana, a community where few buildings and power infrastructure were left untouched.

I’ve seen many pictures on various social media feeds coming from field crews. It looks like progress is being made, but it also looks like there is still much work ahead for these heroic men and women. Hundreds of thousands of people are counting on these crews to get the power flowing again so that they can begin to rebuild their lives and find some sort of normalcy.

Outage update

The outage numbers on Thursday, Sept. 2 were still high in most areas. Entergy reported midday that it had restored power to about 137,000 customers throughout Louisiana. The utility reported that at peak about 904,000 customers were without power. In the New Orleans area, about 88 percent of its customers are still without power. According to an article written by Stephan Bisaha of WWNO – New Orleans Public Radio, which was published on the station’s website Thursday, Entergy is focusing on restoring power to critical infrastructure, which includes hotels. It has restored power to the Caesars Superdome, which is now being used as a shelter. WWNO also listed the following as restored infrastructure in New Orleans:

  • Children’s Hospital
  • Tulane's Teaching Hospital
  • Tulane University Medical Center
  • University Medical Center New Orleans
  • University Hospital
  • Several water plants

On Thursday, Entergy reported that 130,000 customers in East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Livingston areas are still without power, but that number is soon expected to drop significantly because the damage assessments in that area are nearly complete. Entergy Louisiana’s CEO Philip May said that power restoration in Ascension and Livingston parishes will, however, take longer because damage is greater in those area. May said that he expects most of Entergy’s customers to have power back by next Wednesday, Sept. 8.

DEMCO, Louisiana’s largest co-op provides service in the same area and reported Thursday afternoon that after having power out to 100,000 customers at the height of the storm that number has dropped to under 60,000.

Cleco is another utility that still has a significant number of customer restorations ahead of it. According to PowerOutage.US, Cleco has more than 66,000 customers without power in St. Tammany parish and almost 1,500 in St. Landry parish.

Several other co-op that were hard hit include Washington St.Tammany Electric Co-op, which according to PowerOutage.US has just over 30,000 of its nearly 52,000 customers without power and 30,000 of Dixie Electric Membership Corp.’s 81,00 customers also are without power.

South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association (SLECA), which I wrote about in my earlier blog, is still struggling. Early in the week the co-op reported that nearly all customers were without power. On Thursday afternoon it posted this on Facebook: “800 men from across the country left SLECA's tent city in a convoy of bucket trucks and pickup trucks today in the largest restoration effort in SLECA's history. Some trucks and crews started rolling yesterday after a damage assessment was made. Even with these large resources, restoration could take weeks or longer in some areas. SLECA has not experienced this type of damage since Hurricane Betsy in 1965, 56 years ago. Please know that we are aggressively working to restore your power, and we appreciate your patience.” Most of the 800 mentioned in this post are part of mutual aid assistance.

T&D World will continue to report on restoration efforts occurring across Southern Louisiana and in Mississippi. In addition, we’ve added coverage of areas in the Northeast that are recovering from tornado and flood damage caused Wednesday evening by Tropical Depression Ida. No matter how bad the damage or where it’s located, men and women from IOUs, public power and co-ops all around the country will be working alongside local utilities until power is restored.

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