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    Category 4 hurricane? Prepare for 21 days without power, Entergy says


    July 26, 2022 - BLAKE PATERSON | Staff writer

     

      As Louisiana prepares to enter the most active weeks of the hurricane season, an Entergy representative said the public should be prepared to go without power for up to 21 days in the event a Category 4 storm hits the area, and seven days for a Category 1 storm.

      The restoration timeline — offered during a presentation Friday to the Kenner City Council — tracks with estimates Entergy provided to local government leaders last August, days before Hurricane Ida walloped southeast Louisiana, roaring ashore near Grand Isle as a Category 4 storm.

      At the time, Entergy warned that Ida had the potential to leave residents and businesses in the dark for up to 21 days, if not longer. For most residents in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, the blackout lasted for about 10 days.

      Still, the outages left more than a million households and businesses without power in Louisiana's sweltering summer heat and is seen as a factor in at least a dozen heat-related deaths in New Orleans alone.

      According to Entergy's estimates, the public should be prepared to go without power for up to seven days for a Category 1 storm; 10 days for a Category 2 storm; 14 days for a Category 3 storm; 21 days for a Category 4 storm; and more than 21 days for a Category 5 storm.

      For a Category 1 storm, prepare for a week without power. Here's the slide from the presentation. pic.twitter.com/yq8mw8kAzA" Blake Paterson (@BlakePater) July 22, 2022

      "Those are all the timeframes that we are telling customers to use as a potential for an expected outage timeframe if you do stay behind and a hurricane does hit and makes a direct landfall here," Patrick Hamby, an Entergy customer service manager, told Kenner Council members.

      "With a Category 1 hurricane, we expect to have 90% of customers restored within 7 days … 10% of the customers could have a little bit longer depending on the damages," he said.

      Council members offered little comment during Hamby's presentation. Kenner was among the hardest-hit areas of metro New Orleans.

      David Freese, a spokesperson for Entergy Louisiana, said no two storms are alike, and slow-moving systems, like Hurricane Isaac in 2012, can make restoration efforts more difficult. He noted that lingering winds of more than 30 mph can prevent line workers from using bucket trucks.

      "Our pre-landfall restoration estimates are based on historical experience with storms and are meant to help customers and our communities prepare for the potential of being without power for an extended period," he said.

      Entergy Louisiana, which supplies power to roughly 1.1 million customers in 58 parishes, excluding Orleans Parish, spent around $2.5 billion restoring power following Ida, Freese said. Those expenses — along with other storm restoration costs from 2020 and 2021 — will be passed on to ratepayers, with the average customer seeing an increase of $9 to $10 on their monthly bills.

      The impact on customers of Entergy New Orleans, the utility company's Orleans Parish subsidiary, remains to be seen, but rates could rise later this year if the New Orleans City Council approves a $150 million plan to finance the company's storm repairs.

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