Power Being Restored At Same Pace As After Katrina, Gustav

Sep 3, 2012

The state Public Service Commission reported Monday that about 131,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity. That's about 6-percent of customers state-wide.

After Isaac came ashore six days ago, more than 900,000 were without power.

Entergy, the state's largest electricity provider, was able to make significant progress restoring power over the weekend thanks to, in part, new technology that pin-points damage in specific lines.

But as Entergy spokeswoman Sheila Pounders told WRKF's Ashley Westerman, the speed of restoration is still about the same as it was after Katrina, Gustav and Rita. And that, at this point, the level of restoration varies from place to place.


POUNDERS: In the capital region around Baton Rouge, we're to the level that we're now picking up the little small isolated cases. Plaquemine's Parish, you know, we still have some issues with flooding there, which is causing accessibility issues. We've completed all of our assessment and the majority of our backbones are back in and we're now out restoring power to our laterals, which is the feeds that are off the main backbones.

WESTERMAN: And earlier you all tweeted a statistic that says the only storms that have caused more power outages was Katrina, which was over a million; Gustav, which was about 964,000; and then Rita at 800,000. Is power restoration after Isaac moving faster than any of these other storms?

POUNDERS: Well, in some of the areas, yes. The difference is is that with Katrina, Rita versus Isaac: customers left the area and didn't return for days later. So, you know, streets were empty, you know, we had the ability to block streets real easily. It makes it easier when the public is not at home. And not only that, you know, our customers get hot without power. You know, you're whole life is in, you know, an upheaval until your power is restored. So the difference is that everyone stayed home this time versus leaving. So, technically, you know, we're moving about the same as we did in other storms. We have a process and we stick to it.

WESTERMAN: And so what at this point is making your all's job the most difficult?

POUNDERS: At this time, you know, traffic is still an issue. You know we've got a lot of trucks on the road and pulling in and out of traffic. And, you know, pole trucks, sometimes customers don't realize that behind the big bucket truck there's something else and they'll go to turn quickly and not realize that there's a pole trailer behind it. You know, the thing is right now is we're asking the public to watch out for our trucks. Be cautions. Besides that, it's just the fact of so many customers still out and the safety factor. You know, the guys have been working now for almost a week and we're trying to make sure that they stay focused because if they lose focus, you know, there's a chance of an injury or even a fatality. So we're doing everything we can to make sure the guys are getting eight hours of sleep a night and are well rested before they begin their work.

WESTERMAN: Now that the assessment part is over, do you have any idea when you think everything is going to be back up in running order?

POUNDERS: From the state standpoint, we expect to have 90-percent of our customers in by the 6th. You know, some of the areas where, you know, in Baton Rouge we're over that percentage now. You know, in Jefferson Parish, you know, we're around 70-percent. We're going to hit that 90-percent by Thursday, no doubt. There's going to be some customers who can't take power and then the ones that are going to be the longest are the flooded areas. So hopefully, a couple more days and we'll see some significant progress from a statewide standpoint.

WESTERMAN: Okay, Sheila Pounders with Entergy, thank you so much for speaking with me.

POUNDERS: Thank you.