Friday, September 17, 2021

Hurricane Aida is the focus of Louisiana’s power grid problems

Power outages, high-voltage lines on the ground, and power restoration in some places take weeks: the bleak power state after Hurricane Ida is a disturbingly familiar scene for Entergy Corp., the largest power company in Louisiana.

In the past fifteen years, after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike—not to mention Laura, Delta, and Zeta—the power company is still struggling to deal with other widespread Power outage problem. Other utility companies in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast are facing similar disasters and sometimes need to rebuild their entire networks. If anything, power restoration has become faster in recent decades.

Nonetheless, critics question the severity of the blackout caused by Hurricane Ida and why it is still so common almost a week after the storm hit the state with wind speeds of 150 mph.

The New Orleans area has the most serious concerns. During Ida, all eight transmission lines connecting the area with more than 900,000 people to the power of the outside world failed – although the storm damage in the area was not as severe as in the south and west. As of Friday, Entergy has resumed three of these production lines.

“For all eight failures, I just want to know if this can be prevented, and this is the issue we are going to investigate,” Helena Moreno, a member of the New Orleans City Council who oversees the city’s energy regulation, told WWL-TV.

Although Entergy was severely criticized for its widespread failure and slow recovery after Hurricane Gustav in 2008, many people resisted the accusations after Ida. Governor John Bell Edwards said on Wednesday that “no one” is satisfied with the weeks-long repair process. “But I noticed that we just encountered the strongest hurricane the state has experienced, at least tied with the strongest hurricane.”

However, Logan Burke, an Entergy critic of the New Orleans Group’s Affordable Energy Alliance, which seeks to reduce costs and greener energy, said the company’s grid did not live up to expectations.

“We have always believed that the transmission system was built for this level of wind, but it is impossible,” Burke said.

The isolation of the New Orleans subway has always made power supply tricky because there are not enough power plants in the area to meet demand. But regulators may ask why Entergy did not use a new $210 million factory in eastern New Orleans to restart power.

When it lobbied the city government to build the facility – in the process, the company hired actors to pretend to be factory supporters, and incurred a $5 million fine – Entergy told officials that the factory would have so-called “black start” capabilities , That is, the ability to provide electricity. A black grid.

“It didn’t work as advertised,” Moreno’s chief of staff Andrew Tuozzolo said.

Hurricane Aida is the focus of Louisiana's power grid problems
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