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The Gulf Coast region is among the world’s most beautiful, fascinating and diverse places; but owing to nature, it is among the most challenged and beleaguered as well. The history of Hurricane Isaac will be written dispassionately: it was a big storm that stalled over our region and did a lot of damage. Days of high winds kept crews from responding, but when they could and did, we had restoration in record time. Those are the dry facts and figures. But to me, and, in time, I hope to many of you, it will be remembered as a time when people came together when the need was greatest. Isaac was more than an event; a short story of travail and hardship. It was emblematic of the incredible resilience of the human spirit, of basic human goodness and the outdated notion, “We are our brother’s keeper.” Words will never capture the heroism, the courage and the obstacles overcome during “that week” which still elicits strong emotions from many. To outsiders who get their news from afar, hurricanes look alike. We know better. In fact, it’s the differences and characteristics of each storm that define their impact. In contrast to hurricanes like Gustav or Ike, which barreled in on our region, unleashed their fury, and bullied their way inland, Isaac invaded the coast and stayed. It made landfall that Tuesday evening in Plaquemines Parish, dipped back into the Gulf to pick up even more power and moisture, and then came storming back about eight hours later near Port Fourchon and lingered for days like an unwanted house guest. And when Isaac did move, it crawled along, often at speeds of only 5 or 6 miles per hour. I am intensely proud of the Entergy employees who were part of this effort, and of the workers who came from far away to help. For every one Entergy employee out in the field there were nine outside workers, including outside contractors and those who came from any of 25 different states – as far as New York, Wisconsin and Ohio – to pitch in. They came from 21 other utilities and from 138 contractors across the country. Other than their skills and expertise, they had little in common except their mission – to safely get the lights back on as fast as humanly possible.
Hurricane Isaac - 4th Largest Storm in Entergy History Cumulative Percent Customers Restored
100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% DAY 0 DAY 1 ■ ISAAC DAY 2 ■ IKE DAY 3 DAY 4 ■ GUSTAV ■ RITA
There are people who believe that Entergy didn’t get the job done. As the saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, which reflect the truth. The Department of Energy is the federal government’s on-site expert. They observed the restoration effort, calling it “unbelievable” and giving the company an “A+” for results they had never seen before. On the other hand, while the facts that support the DOE’s opinion do speak loudly, I believe we can always get better. When it comes to storm restoration, not one Entergy employee thinks there is such a thing as “good enough.”
U.S. DEPT. OF ENERGY GIVES ENTERGY AN A+
The competence they brought to the region and to storm response, from years of working lines, standing side by side in the face of adversity with local community first responders, and the sense of confidence that “together we can do this,” was unmistakable – the human spirit of people who make personal sacrifices to fix problems and help strangers because that’s what they do and who they are, was remarkable.
Isaac2, 787K at peak 90% restored within 5 days RECORD PACE.
Thetypicalbenchmarkforutilitycompaniesistorestorepowerto70 percentof customerswithinfivetosevendays.ThepaceofEntergy’srestoration,restoringpowerto 90 percentofitscustomersinfourtofivedays,isunbelievable.Thisisoneofthebest
– William Bryan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration, U.S. Department of Energy
Ike, 705K Gustav, 964K Rita, 800K Katrina1, 1,091K
DAY 5 DAY 6 ■ KATRINA DAY 7
Graph reflects cumulative percent of customers restored at 4pm each day relative to non-coincident system peak. 1Excludes extended restoration customers; Rita 800K start is net of continued Katrina restorations in progress. 2Excludes extended restoration customers.
5 M I L L I O N M I L E S AWAY F R O M H O M E
They are people who left their own families, hundreds of, even a thousand, miles away and drove a combined total of about 5 million miles to help out people they had never met and may never meet. • 159 Companies • From 25 States When they got here, many came upon a scene of destruction – downed lines, felled trees, sparking transformers – and efficiently went about creating order out of chaos. These are people who put in up to 16-hour days, working in the intense heat and humidity, we know all too well. But until you’ve done it in hard hats, thick rubber gloves and sleeves needed to work around voltage 1,000 times that of your home electrical connection, you can’t begin to appreciate their strength of mind and body. They repaired or replaced nearly 1,500 transformers that were damaged or destroyed and restored the 95 transmission lines and the 144 substations that were affected – 13 of which experienced floodwaters.
We should all feel an enormous debt to, and respect for, these people – both the Entergy employees and the battle-hardened workers who came from distant places. But they are not the only people whose quiet heroism defined the response to Isaac. At Entergy, we do not take for granted, one second, the patience, the sacrifice, the sharing, the giving and the community spirit of our customers, our neighbors, our families and our friends. There are understandable times of enormous frustration when almost 800,000 customers are thrown into darkness. An hour without power is frustrating, let alone days. Word that power has reached one block but not yours, leaves you wondering if you will ever be reconnected or whether others are receiving preferential treatment. Yet our customers were tremendously supportive and patient, particularly when the answers were not what they hoped for or the desired information was slow in coming. The workers who were out in neighborhoods doing the endless tasks of restoration came back with countless stories of kindness, patience and gratitude on the part of customers who had to endure great hardship – a sandwich and a cold drink offered to a lineman who had been out working under stressful conditions all day, a hand-lettered sign in a window that said, “Bless You, Linemen.” That spirit of cooperation and respect between the workers and the community went both ways, and with that support, we were ultimately able to restore power to half of our customers by day three and 90 percent by day five, significantly less time than after Ike or Gustav. And the safety performance during the Hurricane Isaac restoration was the best achieved among restoration efforts, including hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. Thankfully, we had no fatalities under some of the most dangerous conditions workers ever encounter.
At the same time, some folks envision a “big fix” that could make power disruptions a thing of the past; maybe. But today, even a “partial fix” would impose enormous real and societal costs on the community. Buried power lines cost up to five to 10 times what overhead lines cost and would destroy the root system that feeds many trees that have stood for centuries in our communities. And more aggressive tree trimming would change the appearance and character of our neighborhoods and one of the defining characteristics of so many areas – scenic bayou living, uptown New Orleans, downtown Hammond, Baton Rouge and all areas surrounding. When the game is on the line, nothing beats the linemen. In theory, a so called “smart grid” solution offers promise, but will be extraordinarily expensive even when technology catches up with theory. And then there’s the simple fact that no “self-healing” power grid can dodge falling trees or put itself back together after being broken or flooded. That can only be done by highly-trained, skilled workers. In addition, while the transfer of high voltage power across long distances is technically possible through microwave links, except for high intensity beams for military weapons, commercial application for the power industry is neither safe nor practical. The best way to continuously keep the lights on and improve our response during adverse events is to do the hard work that has earned Entergy the awards and recognition as the best of the best at storm restoration. It involves preparation, planning, training and rehearsal within Entergy and with the many local and state emergency response organizations; it requires meticulous, cold-eyed review of our actions and efforts; it requires ensuring our customers and stakeholders have the information they need when they need it, and it demands that we deliver on the mandate for reliability and attention to human needs that Entergy has taken upon itself as a part of our community. But, will we get better? Faster? Safer? Again, absolutely. We will never have a “perfect” storm response. Each storm throws its own unique curve and reminds us of the enormous fury Mother Nature can generate. But it also teaches us something new, takes our scenario, contingency and communications planning and execution to another level and expands our experience and expertise. But as we anticipate and prepare for the next episode in our region’s history – one written by providence and nature – let’s remember that, while perfection in safety and response time is the goal, and new technologies and continuous investment will move us closer to achieving our aspirations, the success of our response will always hinge, as it always has, on the strength of character and the resilience of the human spirit, both within our company and our community, and the selflessness of those responding to the call from around the country; people who come together to unite in times of crisis, who have each other’s back in treacherous conditions, and those who encourage and support those on the front line bringing out the best in everyone, inspiring others to be their better selves in the worst of times. To them, and to all of you who demonstrated your understanding and support during this challenging time, I wish to express our deep gratitude.
For over two days, Isaac’s winds made it unsafe to put workers in buckets in the air to repair power lines, transformers and broken poles. Isaac’s stubborn persistence caused flooding that hampered our efforts – from closing Interstate 10 near LaPlace to rendering useless our staging site in Slidell – and causing us to adapt. And because Isaac was regarded as “only” a Category 1 hurricane, most of our customers sheltered in place rather than evacuating. They ended up stuck at home without electricity after the storm, leading to more difficulties and frustrations.
Daily Customer Outages (in Thousands)
800 700 600 500 400 300 200 191 TUES 8/28 WED 8/29 THURS 8/30 FRI 8/31 SAT 9/1 437 297 151 SUN 9/2 684 787 90 Bucket trucks are safe to use when winds fall below 30 mph. 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 57 MON 9/3 11 TUES 9/4 7 WED 9/5 6 THURS 9/6 10 0 WIND SPEEDS (mph)
Our system took a century to build, but 30 percent of it was impacted and had to be restored or rebuilt, including 33,000 miles of lines. And, even with all that, power was restored to customers in 7 days. And working to support the men and women in the field were the Entergy employees who left their desk jobs to bring almost 300,000 meals to front-line responders or who answered over a million calls from struggling customers.
J. Wayne Leonard
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Entergy Corporation
Entergy and Mutual Assistance Utility Companies and Contractors:
But the devastating effects of Isaac’s unexpected endurance ultimately were overcome by the persistence, tenacity and spirit of the thousands of men and women who responded in kind. By Saturday, Sept. 1, two days after conditions allowed us to put a highly-skilled workforce in buckets high in the air (up to 60 feet), there were nearly 13,000 people working directly on restoring power in our service region. And they were joined by an additional 4,000 people in support roles. The results of their efforts were nothing short of spectacular; power was restored to customers more quickly than in any other previous hurricane in our region – Katrina, Rita, Gustav or Ike.
Battle Hardened, Sincerely Appreciated
Dominion (VA) Entergy Arkansas, Inc. Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. Entergy Louisiana, LLC Entergy Mississippi, Inc. Entergy New Orleans, Inc. Entergy Texas, Inc. Florida Power & Light Company (FL) Florida Public Utilities Company (FL) Georgia Power Company (GA) Gulf Power Company (FL) Kentucky Utilities Company (KY)
AEP Appalachian Power (VA) AEP Indiana Michigan Power (IN) AEP Kentucky Power (KY) AEP Ohio (OH)
AEP Public Service Company of Oklahoma (OK) AEP Texas (TX) Alabama Power Company (AL) CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (TX)
Louisville Gas and Electric Company (KY) Oncor Electric Delivery Company (TX) PECO Energy Company (PA) Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc. (NC)
Progress Energy Florida, Inc. (FL) Tampa Electric Company (FL) Texas-New Mexico Power Company (TX)
ABC Professional Tree Services, Inc. ACRT, Inc. Aerial Solutions, Inc. AIR 2, LLC American Machinery Movers, Inc. Amphibious Marine, Inc. ArborMetrics Solutions, Inc. Asplundh Construction Corporation Asplundh Tree Expert Company Associated Diversified Services, Inc. Atkins Electric Company, Inc. Auger Services, Inc. B&B Utility Contractors, Inc. Baker Engineering Base Logistics, LLC BBC Electrical Services, Inc. Bison Electric, Inc. Bluegrass Central Construction Inc. Bodies Construction Bowlin Energy, LLC Bron Contractors, Inc. Burford Tree Surgeons, Inc. Byers Engineering Company C.W. Wright Construction Company, Inc. Can-Fer Utility Services, LLC Chain Electric Company Chem Spray South Incorporated Cline Tours, Inc. Comensura Limited D&J Logistics LLC Davis H. Elliott Company, Inc. Delta Products Tree Service Deubler Electric, Inc. Deviney Construction Company Diversified Technologies Services, Inc. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office Eaton Switchgear Repair ElectriCom, Inc. Environmental Consultants, Inc. Ertel Construction, Inc. G&E Trackhoe and Dozer Service LLC Gaylor, Inc. GCR Tire Center Gregory Electric Company Guidant Group, Inc. Gulf Coast Tours, Inc. Harlan Electric Company Heart Utilities of Jacksonville, Inc. Henkels & McCoy, Inc. High Line Services LLC Highlines Construction Company, Inc. Hotard Coaches, Inc. Howard Dedicated Operations, Inc. IB Abel, Inc. Intren, Inc. Irby Construction Company J&L Enterprises Staffing & Recruiting, Inc. J.F. Electric, Inc. J.W. Didado Electric, Inc. Jen Chapman Jordan High Voltage, Inc. JR and Sons Ken’s Airboat Rentals, Inc. Killen Contractors, Inc. King Construction King Equipment L.E. Myers Company Lee Electrical Construction, Inc. Lewis Coaches, Inc. Lofton Security Service, Inc. Looney Tire Company M&M Electrical Contractor, Inc. M&S Electric Inc. Macro Oil Company, Inc. Main Lite Electric Company, Inc. Marks Electric Company MasTec, Inc. Matrix SME Mayo Tours, Inc. McCord Communications Inc. McDowell Logging Inc. MDR Construction Company, Inc. Mercury Air Group, Inc. Midwest Powerline Inc. Miller Bros. Inc. Miller Construction Company, Inc. Mirachi Brothers Inc. MJ Electric, LLC MP Technologies, LLC Musgrove Construction, Inc. N.G. Gilbert Corporation Natchez Backhoe and Dozer LLC Nelson Tree Service, Inc. New River Electrical Corporation New River Valley North Houston Pole Line, LP Northeast Texas Power, Ltd. On Power Inc. Osmose Utility Services, Inc. PAR Electrical Contractors, Inc. Pike Electrical Contractor, Inc. Power Delivery Alliance, Inc. Power Secure Inc. Powerline Utility Services R.C. Directional Boring LLC Regius, Inc. Riggs Distler & Company Inc. River City Construction Inc. Rock’s Lawn Care Stump Out LLC Securitas Security Services Service Electric Company Siren Contractors Source Helicopters Southern Electric Corporation Storm Services LLC Sumter Utilities, Inc. Synergetic Design, Inc. T&D Solutions LLC TechServ Consulting Thayer Power and Communication The Fishel Company The Hydaker-Wheatlake Company Thompson Electric, Inc. Tim Toler’s Backhoe Service Tom Hicks Row Contractors LLC Trees Inc. Triple B Construction & Fence Co., Inc. Utilicon Services, Inc. Utility Line Construction, Inc. Utility Support Systems W.A. Kendell & Company, Inc. Wendell White Wesco Distribution West Tree Service Willbros T&D Services William E. Groves Construction, Inc. Williams Electric Company Woodson Inc.
Total Restoration Workers Amassed
14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 AUG 27 T-3 AUG 28 T-2 AUG 29 T-1 AUG 30 0 AUG 31 T+1 SEP 1 T+2 SEP 2 T+3 SEP 3 T+4 SEP 4 T+5 SEP 5 T+6 SEP 6 T+7
(+4,000 in Support Roles)
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