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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- Hurricane Isaac wreaked havoc on Entergy's equipment across a wide area -- leaving estimated damages of between $400 million to $500 million.

According to company officials, Isaac damaged or destroyed 4,500 power poles and 2,000 transformers, knocking 95 transmission lines out of service.

Now, work begins to figure out how they'll recover those costs.

'We'll be spending the next few weeks and months, working with our regulators to determine the best path forward,' said Entergy spokesman Michael Burns.

That could mean additional charges on customers' bills -- a method the company continues using to make back money lost during hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike.

First, regulators will examine the damage estimates and Entergy's options for recovery.

'Under federal supreme court law, they're entitled to recovery, but from the view of the commission, they're only entitled to what's just and reasonable,' said Eric Skrmetta, District 1 Public Service commissioner. 'We'll hire CPA's and also attorneys to conduct an audit of the request and then we'll go back through every element of it.'

Skrmetta said approving Entergy's Isaac recovery request could take up to two years.

Tuesday, the company said it will pursue all reasonable avenues, which also include tapping storm reserves, borrowing or insurance.

'Because they are entitled to recover, what we do is we look closely more on the expenditures versus how much money they have in reserve to spend,' Skrmetta said.

In the wake of heavy criticism over Entergy's lingering outages after the storm, Skrmetta said scrutiny will high.

'We'll audit the statements, we'll audit the requests and we're gonna check the expenses, and considering the requests for investigation that came from local government, we're gonna be hyper-vigilant on these costs,' he said.

Rate hikes for Gustav and Ike damages added around $2.44 per 1,000 kilowatt hours for Entergy Louisiana customers.

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