Day 12 – 9/3/05, Day 12 – 9/3/05, Electricity Restoration May Take Longer

Business writer

Restoring electricity services to the hardest hit areas of southeastern Louisiana will likely take more than a month, the state’s largest power utility said Saturday.

The slow draining of flood water from the parishes of Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines will keep much of those areas in the dark for weeks longer than other parts of metropolitan New Orleans, Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde said.

Public security also must be restored in New Orleans before utility crews can move in and begin work, he said.

About 506,000 Entergy customers in southeastern Louisiana remained
without power late Saturday afternoon, down from 800,000 at the height of the historically massive storm outage, Lagarde said. But most of the
restoration work thus far has occurred in the Baton Rouge area.

On the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, about 77,000 Cleco Corp. customers remained without power on Saturday, down from 80,000, Cleco
spokeswoman Susan Broussard said. Electricity was back on at most
hospitals, city halls, police stations and fire stations.

Power also was flowing along the major retail business corridor of
La. 190 from downtown Covington to Interstate 12, she said.

Most of the utility’s transmission system had been re-energized in St.
Tammany, but a major transmission line between Madisonville and
Bogalusa feeding Washington Parish remained down, Broussard said.

More than 10,000 utility line people were working in southeastern
Louisiana on Saturday, up from 6,000 just a day earlier. And more help from out-of-state utilities was on the way, Lagarde said.

Work repairing the catastrophic damage inflicted on the local grid continued to gain traction, but the job remained daunting. Entergy crews restored power to 29,000 homes and businesses in Algiers
on Friday only to lose the services Friday night, said Public Service Commissioner James Field of Baton Rouge.

Meanwhile, some evacuees settling into temporary homes and apartments
in Baton Rouge were told Friday by Entergy that it would take at least
three weeks to turn on electricity to their new residences.

“That’s unacceptable,” Field said. “(Entergy) will have to have a
very, very good explanation to explain that. A seven day period would be reasonable.”

Lagarde said late Saturday afternoon that new customers in Baton Rouge will be connected within five days.