City Council grills Entergy New Orleans reps over post-Isaac power restoration

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 4 at 5:41 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Amid the sweltering heat of summer outside, the chorus of complaints grew loud inside the New Orleans City Council chambers, over how Entergy New Orleans handled power restoration after Hurricane Isaac.

"Everybody in this town doesn't have money to buy a generator," said Joseph Recasner of Algiers. "Everybody in this town don't have money to spend unlimited time in a hotel until somebody tells us when the lights are coming back on."

The Council's Utilities Committee held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, peppering Entergy New Orleans representatives with pointed questions about why it took five days for power to be restored across much of the city-- this for a slow-moving, category one storm.

"We believe much of that criticism is born of a lack of understanding of the details of what we do, how we do it and why we do it and when we do it, in responding to a storm," said Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice.

The City Council is the regulatory body that oversees Entergy New Orleans.

"I think now we know and the lessons learned from this is that we need to make sure those 40-year-old transformers are being replaced," said Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, Utilities Committee Chairperson. "We need to know that they are cutting the trees in a timely fashion."

Council President Stacy Head admits the council has not been as proactive as it could have, when it came to oversight of Entergy.

"I think you're absolutely right. If we're going to be fair, we have to be self-critical and look at the fact that we have not had an in-house staff for years," Head said. "It is incumbent upon us to continue to challenge what they do on a daily basis."

The last staff member that handled the City Council's oversight of Entergy New Orleans left two years ago and no one has filled that role since. The council was actually in the process of hiring one person when Hurricane Isaac hit. That person will start in that new position in a few weeks.
 

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