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Entergy: Nearly All of New Orleans, Baton Rouge Have Power; Rural Areas A Bigger Challenge

After Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, it left behind significant damage and downed trees and power lines that caused mass power outages.
Aubri Juhasz
After Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and southeast Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, it left behind significant damage and downed trees and power lines that caused mass power outages.

Almost all of New Orleans and Baton Rouge have power back, Entergy officials said Friday, with the company expecting the city’s remaining dark pockets to be fixed by the end of the evening.

But the job of getting power back to the remaining 13% of customers in Louisiana still without electricity is a bigger challenge. Not only were many of these spots, which include the state’s River and Bayou Parishes, hit hardest by Ida, they tend to be more rural so the damage is spread over a much wider area.

While about 8,500 power poles in the state have been replaced, more than 22,000 are still down. Many residents living along the Gulf in parishes like Lafourche and Terrebonne likely will be without power for weeks.

"We will be in the game until all the lights are on,” said Philip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, during a conference call briefing with the media.

Entergy dismissed criticism that it should have invested more in strengthening its aging infrastructure, as well as investing in renewable resources that could have lessened the impact on the grid. May said any such investment needs to be balanced with keeping costs affordable for customers in one of the poorest states in the country.

“Affordability is a key component of how we serve our customers,” May said. “Ideas like solar panels and microgrids certainly have their place, but we have to assure that they are affordable.”

Repair crews that were working on the metro areas like New Orleans and Baton Rouge are starting to shift to the rural areas still lacking power. Some linemen will remain to get the roughly 2,000 remaining customers back online, with Entergy estimating those customers will have power back by late Friday evening. They will also continue to repair new outages in New Orleans, which Entergy blames partially on recent bad weather.

Here are the latest predictions from Entergy for restoring power to 90% of customers in these parishes:

  • East Bank of Jefferson Parish, Sept. 10
  • West bank of Jefferson Parish, Sept. 10
  • Livingston Parish, Sept. 13
  • St. James Parish, Sept. 17
  • St. John Parish, Sept. 17
  • Tangipahoa Parish/St. Helena, Sept. 17
  • Assumption Parish, Sept. 22
  • Lafourche Parish, Sept. 29
  • Lower Jefferson Parish, Sept. 29
  • Plaquemines Parish, Sept. 29 (Belle Chasse on Sept. 10)
  • St. Charles Parish, Sept. 29
  • Terrebonne Parish, Sept. 29

The utility has suspended late fees and disconnects indefinitely after Ida. While some people on social media have pointed to high bills they’ve recently received from Entergy, the company said most bills shouldn’t reflect the period after Ida made landfall and are likely high due to August’s heat.

Bills will likely go up due to Ida, with residents covering at least some of the cost to repair the grid after the storm. But Entergy said any rate hikes are likely more than a year away.

Stephan Bisaha is the wealth and poverty reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a regional collaboration between NPR and member stations in Alabama (WBHM), Mississippi (MPB) and Louisiana (WWNO and WRKF). He reports on the systemic drivers of poverty in the region and economic development.

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