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.
Philip May, CEO of Entergy Louisiana, stated that the plant does have black start capability, but Entergy determined that minor disturbances may take the plant offline and it is best to use it with electricity elsewhere. To improve the stability of the balanced electrical load.
“If we have the ability to take a path…that allows us to do this in a more controllable and robust way, that will be the path we are pursuing,” he said.
During Ada’s time, a high-voltage tower along the Mississippi River in Avondale, a suburb of New Orleans, collapsed, highlighting Entergy’s transmission problems. The utility company stated that its new transmission tower can withstand wind speeds of up to 150 mph, but the company said its oldest tower can only withstand wind speeds of 100 mph. It is unclear how many old towers there are.
When asked about this question, Entergy spokesperson Jerry Nappi replied in an email that the company seeks to upgrade its “priority structure” in accordance with its annual plan, and upgrade it to “more advanced” when repairing or replacing damaged towers. The standard of flexibility”.
Flying debris hitting the line is usually more of a problem than damaging the tower, and the entire transmission system may not be a destroyed tower but offline due to a circuit trip. May once stated that the Avondale Building recently passed inspections and was not reinforced because it has been “carefully designed.”
Regulators may force Entergy to further strengthen its grid, thereby reducing future risks from more frequent and severe storms caused by climate change. For example, Florida now requires every private utility company to submit an annual plan to make the power system more resistant to power outages.
But upgrades cost money-and the money usually comes from the customer.
Ted Kury, director of energy research at the University of Florida Department of Public Utilities, said: “When you see things like the hardening of the storm, the important thing to remember is that ultimately people will pay for all these costs.” Career Research Center.
Bearing the cost of the upgrade may put a burden on customers who are still paying for the old repairs. Documents from the Louisiana Public Service Commission show that since 2005, Entergy customers outside of New Orleans have been charged nearly $2 billion for rebuilding routes and replenishing storm damage reserves.
By next summer, customers will pay for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008; and Isaac, which will start from 2012 to 2026. Entergy wants another $2 billion to cover Laura, Delta and Zeta’s costs last year. Repairing Ada’s damage will cost more.
Burke said that because customers pay for the old damage, it is difficult to focus on investing in the future.
“As the cost starts to reach the bill, it consumes all time, energy and capacity,” he said.
Some upgrade ideas were rejected because they were too expensive or technically impractical. Although Louisiana encourages burying local power distribution lines in new developments, research shows that burying high-voltage transmission lines can cost billions of dollars. Curry said there are still feasibility issues because underground transmission lines may overheat and be damaged by water.
David Dimuks, executive director of the Energy Research Center at Louisiana State University, said that he would “remind people that layoffs can incur huge costs. Usually when you start working and write out the numbers, economics usually doesn’t This kind of thing.”
Associated Press writer Melinda Deslatte contributed to this report.