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440,000 Louisiana customers offline because of Ida; real-time prices up on heat


Strong progress in New Orleans area

Weather slows restoration efforts

Almost 440,000 Louisiana electricity customers remained offline as of 2 pm CT Sept. 7, nine days after Hurricane Ida came ashore near Port Fourchon packing 150-mph winds and torrential rains, but the two biggest investor-owned utilities in the area reported good progress on restoring service, despite triple-digit heat indexes.

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The excessive heat and humidity contributed to strong demand and high prices for the available electricity. As of about 2:30 pm CT, power demand in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator showed actual demand, at 94.4 GW, had already topped the forecast of 93.9 GW. MISO peakload averaged 107.5 GW for every Tuesday since Aug. 3.

MISO Louisiana Hub real-time price averaged about $49.40/MWh around 2:30 pm CT, compared with an average of about $41.80/MWh for every Tuesday since Aug. 3. The Intercontinental Exchange had no trading activity for day-ahead power for the Louisiana Hub as of midafternoon Sept. 7.

Entergy reported almost all of the greater Baton Rouge area as having service restored and expressed confidence that 90% of the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish area would have service restored Sept. 8.

As of about 2 pm Sept. 7, Entergy had more than 371,000 customers without power in Louisiana.

The Weather Channel issued a heat advisory for Southeast Louisiana from 11 am to 5 pm CT Sept. 7, with heat indexes expected to range from 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continued weather challenges

In a Sept. 7 media call, John Hawkins, Entergy Louisiana vice president for distribution operations, said more than 25,000 workers have repaired almost 4,500 of the 30,679 poles that were damaged or broken, but the high heat and occasionally challenging wind and thunderstorms occasionally slow work.

Whenever lightning strikes within 10 miles of a repair site, workers must shelter in the cabs of their trucks for 30 minutes to ensure the risk has passed.

"We are now fighting new outages based on that weather," Hawkins said.

Phillip May, Entergy Louisiana president and CEO, said: "Our restoration work is moving into the more heavily damaged areas. We are continuing to see restoration progress every day."

Many Cleco customers regain power

Another hard-hit utility in the area was Cleco, and that company said it had restored about 90% of the 97,773 customers who lost power in the St. Tammany and Washington parishes because of Hurricane Ida. As of about 2 pm Sept. 7, Cleco had about 9,000 customers without power.

Dixie Electric Membership Corporation, which serves several parishes in southeast Louisiana, had the second-largest total number of Louisiana power customers offline at more than 53,000. The company has warned members that "restoration will be a weeks-long effort."

Utilities with more than 1,000 customers offline due to Hurricane Ida
As of 2 pm CT Sept. 7
Dixie Electric Membership Corporation
Washington St. Tammany Electric Cooperative
Sources: Various utilities