In the face of increasingly severe extreme weather, Entergy New Orleans on Tuesday launched a $1 billion grid hardening program, which must be approved by city officials.
The 10-year plan, called Operation: Gridiron, would be put in place in two five-year phases, according to Entergy’s proposal with the New Orleans city council. Entergy proposed spending about $559 million in the plan’s first phase, according to a mid-April filing with the city council.
The plan would cut outage times by more than half and save customers millions of dollars, Entergy said. It calls for upgrading thousands of poles to withstand 150 mph winds and hardening 650 miles of power lines.
Entergy estimates its proposed first phase would save customers about $216 million in storm restoration costs over 50 years.
If approved, Entergy would file progress reports with the city council every six months.
Entergy proposed recovering its costs via a “resilience and storm hardening” cost rider to be added to customer bills.
“Without timely and efficient cost recovery for the projects, [Entergy New Orleans’] financial health likely would be further compromised given the amount of the expenditures involved over an extended period,” the utility said.
Entergy asked the city council to approve its plan by the end of the year.
After Hurricane Ida in 2021, the New Orleans city council directed Entergy and other stakeholders, such as the Alliance for Affordable Energy, to offer measures to increase the city’s grid resiliency.