City Council holds Entergy inquiry into length of power outages


Posted on September 4, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 4 at 12:27 PM
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NEW ORLEANS – Most of New Orleans may have power, but the City Council is still looking for answers from Entergy New Orleans officials as to why it took so long to restore power to New Orleans after Isaac passed over the city.

An emergency meeting was held after the council received a large amount of complaints from residents for the duration of power outages. City Council members opened with pointed questions for Entergy officials, including why the outages took so long in certain areas and if Entergy's system is built to withstand a slowing moving category-1 storm.

Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice called the company's response to Isaac "outstanding," noting that 160,000 people were without power immediately after Issac.

According to Entergy, 95 percent of the east bank of Orleans Parish has been restored and 90 percent of the west bank has been restored. As of Tuesday, 8,000 in Orleans Parish are without power.  Statewide, 43,703 remain in the dark, according to Entergy.

"Our employees take extreme great pride in turning darkness into light after a storm," said Rice, "so if there is a preception among some out there that we are not doing everything reasonably in our power to get your power on as soon as possible, then we need to change that perception. Because I know in my heart of hearts and I have seen with my own two eyes that is simply not true."

Rice, however, acknowledged the difficulty customers faced in the aftermath of the Isaac. "This has been a tough week."

Despite Entergy New Orleans hitting their goals of returning power to 90 percent of city by Wednesday, city officials were still looking for answers from Entergy.

"Unfortunately, despite thorough preparation by federal, state, and local governments, our city’s recovery has been stymied by energy outages throughout the city. New Orleanians understand that patience is required. But as Entergy’s regulators, the Council must inquire as to whether the process of restoring electricity was sufficiently aggressive and visible as soon as the winds subsided,” said Stacy Head, council president in a statement.

Rice said the criticism the company is facing is from a lack of understanding. There is "no such thing as an instantaneous restoration."

Entergy's map of outages in the metro area on the internet also drew criticism for reporting restored power where outages still were from Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson.  Officials from Entergy admitted to problems with the map.

"Please, either get it right, or get it off," said Clarkson.