From the desk of Sheila Pounders:
Baton Rouge, La. - September 1 marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Gustav, which left 829,000 Entergy customers in Louisiana without power. In the aftermath, Entergy directed the restoration activities of 15,000 storm workers from 26 states and Canada, returning power to 75 percent of the storm-stricken area in eight days.
Now, a year after that fateful Labor Day, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. is more prepared than ever should a major storm strike Louisiana. The company has worked to enhance its restoration processes as well as the way it delivers information to customers.
"As soon as we get the lights back on after a major storm, we immediately start taking stock of the lessons learned," said Sheila Pounders, regional customer service manager for Southwest Louisiana. "Every storm is different, and we use the experience to enhance our restoration plan for the next one."
In preparation for the 2009 season, the Entergy companies completed more than 4,700 miles of tree-trimming in Louisiana and an infrared inspection of its infrastructure to detect poor connections that may have resulted from the sustained winds of Gustav and Ike. The company has taken steps in the coastal areas to elevate selected substations, install larger diameter poles and anchor poles with additional pole guy wires.
Enhancements to the company's Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software, which remotely monitors the electrical grid, have improved the information about how power is flowing and where problems might have occurred. The system also allows some equipment to be operated remotely so that outages can be minimized to affect the fewest number of people possible.
Entergy has also made a state-of-the-art upgrade to the "View Outages" portion of its Web site this year. Now, customers can view outages at the street level, learn the cause and get estimates on when power will be restored.
"Technology has reached the point that customers don't need electricity to view Web sites," Pounders noted. "Customers can get online with a satellite card or through an internet-capable cell phone. Those who have left their homes or businesses for areas with power can check a computer to see when it's time to return."
Entergy Gulf States Louisiana is also testing a system to text message information to customers about power outages and restoration. The system is slated for delivery this fall.
In addition, the company has unveiled a new Storm Center Web site at entergystormcenter.com. Elements of the Storm Center include:
- News Updates-Visitors can subscribe to receive Really Simple Syndication (RSS) messages when an update has been added to the site.
- Important Information-General information about Entergy's restoration process, plus historical information related to a current restoration as it continues over time. For example, it could include landfall time and location of a hurricane and the peak number of customer outages caused by the storm.
- View Outages Information-A link to Entergy's online Web outage system can also be found on this Web page, which provides information about outages and estimated restoration times.
- Photos and Videos-Photos and videos are delivered through a modernized media management system.
- Other Links-A collection of links to other Web sites, such as American Red Cross, The Weather Channel, FEMA, news media, etc.
Earlier this year, Entergy received a pair of restoration awards from the Edison Electric Institute, the Emergency Recovery Award for restoring power following Gustav and Ike and the Emergency Assistance Award for helping Public Service of Oklahoma and AEP Texas after major storms hit those states. Entergy is the only company in the United States to have received an EEI Emergency Response Award in each of the 11 years that the awards have been presented.