Millions still lack power in U.S. Gulf after Katrina
NEW YORK (Reuters) – As electric utilities slowly restore
service to the hurricane-hit U.S. Gulf Coast, some 1.6 million
customers in the region still had no power on Friday, according
to area utilities and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Four days after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the region,
extensive damage from flooding and saltwater were hampering
efforts to restore electricity, utilities said.
Utilities in the three hardest-hit Gulf Coast states said
about 28 percent of customers were without power, 730,000 in
Louisiana, 704,000 in Mississippi and 165,000 in Alabama.
Katrina, made landfall in south Florida last week, then
crashed ashore in Louisiana Monday packing winds of 140 mph. It
left more than 4.5 million homes and businesses without power.
More than 10,000 outside crews have arrived to help, the
DOE said, noting availability of line crews remains an issue
even as crews completing their work in Florida started moving
to other states.
National Guard troops have moved into the hardest-hit areas
of Louisiana and Mississippi to help police restore security
and keep utility crews safe as they restore service.
Entergy Corp., with about 600,000 customers out in
Louisiana and 142,000 out in Mississippi, said key obstacles to
restoring power in Greater New Orleans were lack of security,
food, water and fuel for repair crews who are sleeping in their
Entergy, which is slowly restoring service to areas not
hurt by flooding, said it expects restoration to take several
Southern Co., with 165,000 customers out in Alabama and
181,000 out in Mississippi, said it expected to have 99 percent
of power restored in Alabama by September 7 but predicted it
would take up to four weeks to restore service in the
hardest-hit areas of Mississippi.
The utilities said their first priority was restoring power
to essential customers like hospitals, police, fire,
communications, water, sanitation and transportation providers,
followed by oil and natural gas pipelines and refineries.
In Louisiana, Entergy’s Waterford 3 nuclear power unit
remained out of service. The plant, which shut on August 28 as
the storm approached the coast, did not sustain any damage,
except to some off-site buildings.
Electricity outages were impeding the full restoration of
the Colonial and Plantation pipelines, which provide the
majority of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to the Southeast,
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port
(LOOP) and the Capline, a crude oil pipeline serving the
Entergy said it would restore more power to the LOOP within
a week to 9 days.
Of the 11 refineries in Louisiana affected by Hurricane
Katrina, Entergy said late Thursday it restored service to all
but three in the most heavily damaged southeastern part of the
state. The utility expects to restore service to those three
within a week to 10 days. Two refineries never lost power.
Even with access to power, it will still take some
refineries weeks to resume operations.
Entergy’s subsidiaries own and operate about 30,000 MW of
generating capacity, market energy commodities and transmit and
distribute power to 2.6 million customers in Arkansas,
Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Southern’s subsidiaries own and operate more than 39,000 MW
of generating capacity and provide power to more than 4 million
customers in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.