Power restoration estimates looking up for Baton Rouge, Gonzales, New Orleans

Repair crews working on power lines. (File photo)

Under increasing pressure from frustrated regulators and their constituents, Entergy, the state’s largest utility, released estimated restoration times for customers affected by Hurricane Ida.

All things considered, the estimates are more optimistic than originally projected.

The company now says power should be completely restored to its customers in East Baton Rouge Parish by Sept. 7—two days earlier than estimates provided at Thursday’s briefing. Entergy customers in Denham Springs, Gonzales should have power restored in Ascension Parish by Sept. 8.

Restoration for Iberville and East Feliciana Parish should be complete by the end of today.

As of 9 a.m., 28% of customers in East Baton Rouge Parish remained without power; while 65% of Ascension Parish and 67% of Livingston Parish remain offline.

Late Wednesday, Public Service Commission Chairman Craig Greene issued a statement directed at the utility, demanding more concrete information for customers, some of whom have been suffering without air conditioning in extreme heat.

“I’m frustrated with the leadership of some of our biggest companies, who focus more on how to message a disaster rather than speak plainly as to what is going on,” Greene says in the statement. “I want to know true restoration numbers, not bolstered data to manufacture ‘progress.’ There is a difference between having no power and being in the dark. People can cope with no power, but people cannot work with no information.”

In a briefing this morning, Entergy says it has made tremendous progress in recent days and is able to now give estimated restoration times because it has completed its assessment of damage to the grid in all but the hardest hit areas.

Entergy is also now estimating that most of New Orleans, including Metairie, Kenner the west bank of Jefferson Parish and Chalmette, should be almost completely back online by Sept. 8. Initial estimates suggested the metro area would be out of power for at least a month due to damage to all eight major transmission lines feeding into the city. The company now says three of those lines have been repaired.

Still more than 80% of Orleans Parish and more than 90% of Jefferson Parish are without power amid a dangerous heat wave, which is  creating concerns about a potential public health disaster.

The company says it’s too soon to provide restoration estimates for hard-hit coastal communities and the River Parishes.