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Power Factbox: Texas PUC acts to expedite electric restoration

As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey move northeast through Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, utilities are restoring power and regulators are suspending rules to expedite such efforts.

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AccuWeather founder, president and chairman Joel Meyers said Wednesday the storm will be "the worst natural disaster in American history" and has described the storm's deluge as "a 1,000-year flood."

As of about 10 am CDT, utilities in Texas and Louisiana had reduced the number of customers without power to about 209,000, and Brian Lloyd, Public Utility Commission of Texas executive director, said he expects even faster progress Thursday, except in the hardest-hit areas such as Rockport, where Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm late Friday night.

During that meeting, the PUC approved two orders related to the storm. One of these delegated authority to Lloyd to issue cease-and-desist orders and certain other directives, and the other assists with Governor Greg Abbott's proclamation designed to help utilities speed restoration efforts, such as allowing them to enter private property.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to all the folks living along the coast, in the Coastal Bend area in particular, and Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur," PUC acting Chairman Ken Anderson said. "It will be a long haul ahead, but it was inspiring the way Texans came together...The restoration times, particularly in the Houston area, have been pretty remarkable, particularly when compared against Ike."

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston, Texas, causing widespread outages and flooding throughout the Houston area.

Click the image to view a larger size.

Hurricane Harvey all infrastructure map


RESTORATION EFFORTS


Centerpoint Energy, Houston's main transmission and distribution utility reported Thursday morning that over the course of the storm it restored power to more than 850,000 customers.

Around 51,000 were without power around 10 am Thursday, "of which 23,000 are still inaccessible due to high water," Centerpoint said.

Centerpoint's customers without power totaled 80,238 as of 3 pm Wednesday.

Centerpoint continues to use helicopters and drones to survey larger electric infrastructure, "especially where they are near rivers and bayous."

"In an effort to minimize equipment damage which would result in longer restoration times, we've taken portions of substations out of service due to flooding concerns," Centerpoint said. "In many cases, we were able to reroute power from alternate sources."

Entergy Texas reported on Thursday having restored power to 128,664 customers since the storm began, and but it still had about 56,000 without power as of about 10 am, down from 64,667 at 3 pm Wednesday.


OUTAGES AND LOAD DIFFERENCES


As of about 10 am Thursday, Texas and Louisiana utilities' outage maps showed the following numbers: --AEP Texas (Corpus Christi, Texas area), 88,628 --Entergy Texas (East Texas), 56,012 --Centerpoint Energy (Houston-Galveston), 51,149 --South Texas Electric Cooperative (rural Gulf Coast area), 5,828 --Texas-New Mexico Power (suburban Houston), 3,979 --Cleco (central and eastern Louisiana), 1,882 --Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans, 1,515

At about 10 am Thursday, ERCOT showed load in the storm-affected areas down by less than 22%, compared with the same period August 24, 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 5,639 MW, or about 29%, from the same period a week ago.

The next-largest difference was in the South Central region -- including Austin and San Antonio -- down 1,006 MW, or more than 13%, from the same period a week ago.

The smallest absolute decrease was in the Southern region, which was down 548 MW, or almost 14%, from August 24.

--Mark Watson, Markham.watson@spglobal.com
--Edited by Jason Lindquist, jason.lindquist@spglobal.com