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Power out for about 360,000 due to Laura; service restoration may take weeks

Highlights

Entergy customers hardest hit in southwest Louisiana

Electric co-ops face tough challenges

Houston — About 360,000 power customers remained without electricity in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas on Aug. 31 in the wake of the cyclone Laura, diminishing power demand, and Entergy is warning its customers in Louisiana and Texas that restoring service in some areas may take weeks to achieve.

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Entergy's subsidiaries in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas lost about 616,000 of its 2.9 million customers at the peak of the outages, but have since restored service to all but about 210,000 around 2 pm CT Aug. 31, according to PowerOutage.us.

In a news release on the morning of Aug. 31, Entergy said service has been restored to all of its Arkansas and Mississippi customers with facilities that can safely receive power.

"Outages in Texas will be restored in early September," Entergy said. "Restoration continues for our Louisiana customers, but those in Lake Charles, and Cameron and Calcasieu parishes face weeks without electrical power."

American Electric Power's Southwestern Electric Power Company had about 136,000 of its 498,689 customers offline at its peak, but has since restored service to all but aobut 34,000, almost all in Louisiana.

Swepco said Aug. 31 that 95% of its customers in Bossier City and Haugton, Louisiana, would have power by 10 pm that day and Shreveport, Louisiana customers would have power by 5 pm Sept. 1.

"The dedication of Swepco employees and our 3,000 out-of-state partners has resulted in significant progress in restoring power in Northwest Louisiana," said Drew Seidel, Swepco vice president of distribution region operations. "Once northwest Louisiana crews complete their work, they'll move south to help those working to restore power in our Valley District, an area hit with Category 2 force winds exceeding 100 mph."

Trouble at co-ops

Other utilities – co-ops, in particular -- have not been able to make much progress. Beauregard Electric Cooperative, for example, had virtually all of its 42,931 customers lose power at the height of the storm, but had only whittled that number down to 42,872 as of 2 pm CT Aug. 31.

Attempts to reach anyone at Beauregard Electric Co-op have so far been unsuccessful.

While the storm had the effect of diminishing peakload power demand by about 10 GW, from about 110.7 GW Aug. 26 to about 110.3 GW Aug. 28, those numbers are masked by a heat wave striking the remainder of the large MISO footprint, as all of these numbers are well above the five-year peakload average for those dates, which ranged from about 94 GW to about 97 GW.

About 46% of Claiborne Electric Co-op's customers remained without power as of the afternoon of Aug. 31 along its Louisiana footprint near the Arkansas state line.

"Despite the fact that even before the storm hit, we brought in more assistance to help us in our restoration efforts, this storm is like no other we have experienced in the history of our cooperative," said Mark Brown, Claiborne general manager and CEO. "At no time have we ever suffered Category 1 hurricane force winds for four hours within our cooperative's territory. At no time in our past have we experienced a storm that so completely covered our territory that, at one point in time, we had more than 98% of our meters without power."

One of the problems Claiborne faces is a lack of transmission service into five of its distribution substations, Brown said in an Aug. 31 news release, noting that Entergy "has been slow to respond" to complaints about a lack of transmission service.

"We recognize Entergy was stricken with the same catastrophic weather event the entire state endured," Brown said. "We understand that maintaining and repairing these transmission lines is a monumental task. We still feel we are entitled to ask for these lines to receive priority treatment given the number of families and businesses affected, but we have absolutely no control of how they choose to prioritize their restoration efforts with regard to these lines they own."

Top 5 electric utility outages on Aug. 31
Total customers
Maximum customers out*
Current customers out
Current % out
Entergy (Ark., La., Miss., Texas)
2,927,846
615,400
209,642
7.2%
Cleco
284,567
132,000
57,348
20.2%
Beauregard Electric Co-op (La.)
42,931
42,914
42,872
99.9%
AEP (Swepco in Ark., La., Texas)
498,689
136,000
34,057
6.8%
Claiborne Electric Co-op (La.)
19,879
19,481
9,099
45.8%
*Approximate
Source: PowerOutage.us