- More than a week after Hurricane Ida knocked out power to almost 1 million Entergy customers across Louisiana and Mississippi, the utility said that as of 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday it still could not deliver power to 302,000 customers due to widespread damage to its distribution network. Hardest hit areas could be without power until Sept. 29, officials said.
- Entergy's Waterford 3 nuclear unit remains offline, but the utility said it has received authorization to restart from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and expects to begin generating "soon." The utility is not facing a generation shortage, despite damage to multiple facilities.
- More than 30,000 electric poles were damaged or destroyed by Ida, according to Entergy — more than were impacted by hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Delta and Zeta combined. Utility officials called the restoration effort "historic," they warned that it will need to rebuild some parts of the system following the Aug. 29 storm.
In nine days of restoration efforts, Entergy said on Tuesday that it had brought power back online for more than half a million customers. But the biggest challenges are still ahead.
"As power is restored to one community, we move crews to join restoration efforts in another," Phillip May, the president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, said in a press briefing Tuesday. "We are converging our workforce to be able to get more boots on the ground in the most heavily damaged areas."
Critics of the utility say, however, that Entergy's restoration efforts could have been quicker if the utility had invested more in distributed resources.
"We have advocated for years for them to bolster their transmission system and invest in local solar and battery backup to enable each neighborhood to be a microgrid," said Jesse George, New Orleans policy director for Alliance for Affordable Energy.
Entergy has also taken criticism for the slow return of its New Orleans Power Station, which took days to come back online despite promises from the utility that its black-start capabilities would be an asset after storms.
George said he expects the New Orleans City Council will open an investigation into Entergy's response to the storm. The city regulates the utility's power delivery within New Orleans, while the state Public Service Commission oversees operations in other areas.
"I'm hopeful the city council will launch an investigation into the prudence of the company's planning leading up to this event," said George. "Anyone in New Orleans can tell you, we lose power if the wind blows too hard."
Entergy preparing to restart Waterford, has sufficient generation
According to the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, there are more than 27,000 workers from other states and the District of Columbia converging in Louisiana and Mississippi to aid in restoration.
Entergy says it has brought power back online to many critical locations, including water plants, hospitals and schools.
May said Entergy Nuclear has "completed all necessary internal readiness reviews and has received approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart our Waterford 3 nuclear facility." The facility was taken offline after the 1.2 GW plants lost power.
Entergy Louisiana, which serves areas outside of New Orleans, saw peak outages of 697,000 customers, and the utility said 62% have been restored. Entergy New Orleans had 205,000 peak outages, and about 83% have been restored. All 46,000 customers who lost power in Mississippi are back online.
In total, Ida caused 948,000 outages across Entergy's Louisiana and Mississippi operating areas and 68% of customers have had power restored.
An Entergy spokesman said the company has three power-generating plants in southeast Louisiana that are either operating at a reduced rate or "expected to return to service later this month," but that the utility has sufficient generation on its system. The utility also has about 770 miles of transmission lines that remain out of service.
Deanna Rodriguez, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, praised the "historic" efforts of crews working in the city and said 90% of accounts in the city were expected back online by Wednesday. She also warned "there are some areas where our restoration efforts are going to be more complex."
The historic Algiers neighborhood requires "a lot of backyard work," said Rodriguez. The Venetian Isles area will also take additional time due to the number of poles down.
John Hawkins, Entergy Louisiana's vice president of distribution operations, gave some detail on what repair crews are facing.
"In Algiers, when we talk about backyard work, we're removing fences, our crews are having to walk equipment back to properties to make repairs. Sometimes we have to use cranes to hoist poles over homes," Hawkins said. And the Venetian Isles area, he said, is "truly a rebuild."