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Power Factbox: Harvey Boosting East Texas, La. Outages

Houston (Platts)--30 Aug 2017 12:09 pm EDT/18:09 GMT

As what is now Tropical Storm Harvey moved eastward and made landfall in Southwest Louisiana around 4 am Wednesday, power outages have risen in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana, and continued flooding has hampered efforts to restore power in the Houston area.


Power-Restoration Efforts

In a media release Wednesday morning, the Edison Electric Institute reported that more than 10,000 workers from at least 20 states are attempting to restore power to what utilities reported as more than 313,000 customers without power as of about 9 am.

"Responding to major events like Harvey requires significant coordination among many public and private sectors," EEI President Tom Kuhn said. "For example, there are interdependencies among the energy, communications, supply chain, transportation, and water and wastewater sectors. Strong industry-government coordination is critical."

In a storm update Wednesday, the US Department of Energy said: "There are no unmet needs by any electric utility at this time."

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid remains stable, the DOE said.

"However, several transmission lines remain out of service, including two major 345 kV transmission lines serving the Gulf Coast area," the DOE said.

As of about 9 am, Entergy Texas had about 83,000 customers without power -- up from about 27,000 Tuesday afternoon, and Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans had a total of 6,273 customers without power, up from about 1,200 Tuesday afternoon.

"Entergy has restored 110,697 outages since Harvey began impacting our area on Friday and our crews continue to safely restore power as quickly as possible," Entergy Texas said in an update Wednesday morning. "Flooding is significantly impacting Entergy's ability to restore power to customers in some areas. Damage will be assessed as flood waters recede and restoration will continue as it is safe to do so."

In Louisiana, Entergy said crews have begun assessing damage, but "areas that have flooded may experience extended outages until the water recedes and company restoration workers can access the locations."

"More than 300 restoration workers stationed in Southwest Louisiana are restoring power where possible as the tropical force winds of 45 to 60 mph move out of the area," Entergy said. "Additional outages could occur as the storm moves northeast across Louisiana, bringing strong winds, more rain and the potential for isolated tornadoes to the rest of the state."

In a Tuesday night website update, Tom Coad, AEP Texas vice president of distribution region operations, said: "We are working to reduce the number of hazard tickets; however, we're facing hundreds of down power lines, as well utility poles damaged by the storm."

AEP Texas has estimated at least 2,100 utility poles and 55 transmission structures were damaged or knocked down. Crews are working to repower 55 transmission lines, mainly in the Corpus Christi area. Service has been restored to 10 transmission lines and 21 of the 44 out-of-service substations.

In a Wednesday morning email, Centerpoint Energy reported that over the course of the storm, it had restored power to more than 713,000 customers including more than 100,000 over the 24 hours ending at 8 am CDT Wednesday.

More than 70 additional repair crews arrived Monday and more than 100 more crews will arrive Wednesday, Centerpoint said. Mutual assistance crews are coming from other parts of Texas, plus Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.

"Our electric and natural gas crews cannot safely navigate all areas around the city to assess damage to our systems or restore power to customers in hard hit areas," Centerpoint said. "And while the water on a particular street may have receded, the equipment that needs to be repaired -- or what's causing the outage - may be in area that is still impacted by flooding."

Centerpoint is using helicopters and drones to assess damage in areas inaccessible from the ground.

"Already weakened trees and branches continue to snap and fall on power lines," Centerpoint said. "This along with ongoing flooding is creating new customer outages or causing an additional outage where old ones were repaired."

In a media release Wednesday morning, Calpine said most of its approximately 9,000 MW of Texas capacity is available for dispatch, and the rest is expected to be available in the next few days "with no material damage reported."

Thad Hill, Calpine president and CEO, said: "Our plants fared well and our corporate operations continued in an efficient and orderly manner thanks to sound planning and, most of all, the professionalism and dedication of our team."

Power Outages

Around 9 am CDT Wednesday, utilities serving the storm-affected areas reported nearly 313,000 customers without power:

  • AEP Texas (Corpus Christi, Texas area), 106,890
  • South Texas Electric Cooperative (rural Gulf Coast area), 8,706
  • Centerpoint Energy (Houston-Galveston), 98,935
  • Texas-New Mexico Power (suburban Houston), 7,108
  • Entergy Texas (East Texas), 83,145
  • Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans, 6,273\
  • Cleco (central and eastern Louisiana), 1,878.

An AEP Texas media release noted that about 220,000 customers were without power at the peak of the event, around 2 pm Saturday.

Load Differences

At about 9 am CDT Wednesday, ERCOT showed load in the storm-affected areas down by more than 30%, compared with the same period August 23, which was a hotter day when most industrial load was still operating.

The largest difference was in the Coastal weather region -- around Houston and Galveston -- which was down 5,485 MW, or almost 41%, from the same period a week ago.

The next largest difference was in the South Central region -- including Austin and San Antonio -- down 1,121 MW, or more than 15%, from the same period a week ago.

The smallest absolute decrease was in the Southern weather region, which was down 806 MW, or more than 22%, from August 23.