Thursday, February 7, 2013

Entergy's report on Hurricane Isaac restoration

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 4:04 PM

The two Entergy subsidiaries that provide power to New Orleans — Entergy New Orleans on the east bank (ENO) and Entergy Louisiana (ELL) on the west bank — submitted to New Orleans City Council a report on their preparations for and restoration efforts following Hurricane Isaac, which left most of the city without power for days. Council requested the report in early September in response to complaints that full restoration took too long.

The report, however, offers high praise for the utility's response, characterizing its power restoration time — more than 90 percent of 160,000 affected customers were restored by Sept. 3, day five of active restoration — as "commendable." Restoration work cost about $45.8 million, through December 2012. Problems encountered, were mostly related to the size, slow speed and unpredictability of the storm, it says.

From the report:

Entergy_Table.jpg

"The Companies were able to restore power to approximately 95% of customers in Orleans Parish within five days after it was safe to begin restoration efforts. Significantly, the restoration was accomplished without a single fatality or major injury," it reads, with only 13 "OSHA-recordable injuries."

"The Companies’ preparation for and response to Hurricane Isaac, while not without its challenges, was reasonable, appropriate, and worthy of the commendations they have received."

(More after the jump)

Prior to landfall, out-of-state workers with companies either contracted by or part of a mutual assistance agreement with Entergy, were dispatched to Florida, based on Isaac's projected path at the time. Then the path shifted to Louisiana. Initial plans called for restoration teams to head to Jackson, Miss. for check-in.

"Given that most resources were originating in Florida, Louisiana Incident Command determined that it would be inefficient to route these resources several hours northward to check in before having them turn south to the most affected areas," the report says.

From the report:

EntergyWorkers.jpg

Instead, the check-in station was moved to Slidell, near the I-10/I-12 split. On August 30, that check-in site started flooding, so they had to change it yet again, this time to New Orleans East. The day after that, workers coming to New Orleans from the other direction were stalled by the flooding and closure of I-10 in LaPlace.

Meanwhile, the report says, few people had evacuated, leading to traffic congestion in the metro area.

The overriding problem, however, it says, was how long Isaac lingered over the area.

From the report:

"The National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported sustained winds of over 39 mph for 60 hours in Louisiana and 54 hours in the New Orleans metro area. This delayed the start of aerial bucket restoration work (e.g., work performed from 'bucket trucks') until August 30, 2012 (referred to as 'Day 1' of restoration) and full ramp-up of restoration until August 31, 2012."

From the report:

EntergyRestoration.jpg

The report does offer some (qualified) self-criticism in the area of customer communications. First noting that Entergy reps fielded more than one incoming million calls (76 percent of which were answered within 30 seconds, it says), made more than 2 million calls and sent about 1.4 million text messages, the report acknowledges customer frustrations.

"We have taken, and will continue to take, a number of additional steps as we prepare for the 2013 hurricane season," including improvements to the View Outage page on its website, it says.

As for improving the local electrical system, Entergy claims it is willing to discuss the possibility of burying New Orleans power lines to improve the system's resilience, but it cautions that it could be a prohibitively expensive, difficult proposition, pointing to 2011 recent study done on just a single mile of road in central Lafayette. Costs were estimated to be between $16 and $26 million.

"While the situation in Lafayette described above is perhaps an anomaly, it illustrates the significant potential cost and complexity of converting overhead electric service to underground in densely populated urbanized areas."

Read the full report: 2013_Hurricane_Issac_Report.pdf

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