NEW ORLEANS — The Edison Electric Institute has honored Entergy Corporation with the association’s Emergency Recovery Award and Emergency Assistance Award for its power restoration efforts to its own customers throughout 2011 and to other utility company customers following Hurricane Irene.
This is the 14th consecutive year for Entergy to receive an EEI national storm restoration award.
The recovery award is presented annually to U.S. and foreign-based member companies that faced untoward circumstances caused by extraordinary events and put forth an outstanding effort to restore service to the public. The assistance award recognizes an outstanding response in restoring electric service to a neighboring or nearby utility company that has been disrupted by severe weather conditions or other natural events.
Winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI’s March CEO meetings in Washington, D.C.
Entergy received the recovery award after experiencing 11 severe weather events in 2011, beginning with tornadoes on New Year’s Day, followed by a series of winter storms, river flooding, additional tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, a tropical storm and drought. The events affected Entergy’s Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas service territories. The recovery challenges were daunting and included carefully balancing recovery resources in different states, acquiring a large number of critical transmission towers in a very short timeframe, and developing a heightened level of coordination with local and state governments when dealing with flooding along the Mississippi River. Mother Nature threw just about everything at Entergy; Entergy was amply prepared and fought back.
During April, a series of tornado outbreaks – there were 203 confirmed – impacted not only Entergy but also other neighboring utilities. Hundreds of distribution poles and major transmission lines and towers were destroyed. Entergy found itself in need of a large number of lattice towers to replace the 57-500 KV EHV towers knocked out in the storms. The company rapidly worked through its supply chain organization to expedite acquisition of spare towers, allowing it to bring critical EHV transmission lines back in service prior to the summer peak load and removed a serious generation constraint.
Springtime snow melt combined with heavy spring rains brought the Mississippi River and several tributaries to record heights. During the Mississippi River Flood event, Entergy’s management again found itself in a situation where innovative solutions were needed. The extreme high water levels were causing several critical transmission lines and a large fossil generation station to be removed from service. This placed greater burden on remaining facilities, including the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, located on the banks of Mississippi River. Working with the Mississippi governor’s office and local law enforcement officials, Entergy was able to have a section of the river restricted in order to keep a key transmission line and the nuclear station in operation, both critical to grid stability.
Another major hurdle for Entergy was the opening for the first time in 37 years of a Mississippi River spillway, which was necessary in order to relieve pressure on the levees protecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Entergy’s river forecast information indicated that if certain lines could be raised before the spillway was opened, they could remain in service. The necessary work was completed just before the control structure was opened.
In early September, as Entergy crews returned from assisting PHI’s Atlantic City Electric recover from Hurricane Irene, Entergy crews were forced to deal with the sustained heavy rains and winds from Tropical Storm Lee. This storm spawned more than 20 confirmed tornadoes in southeast Louisiana and central and southern Mississippi, causing more than 21 fatalities and $1 billion in damage. Entergy used its damage prediction model to assist in management’s decision that the company could continue to provide crews to support the Hurricane Irene recovery efforts, while remaining Entergy workers prepared for Lee.
In addition, Entergy Texas contended with the additional risk of severe drought and associated wildfires throughout most of 2011. Trees near power lines killed by the drought caused an increased risk of outages that continues today.
Entergy received the assistance award for responding to the calls for mutual assistance on Aug. 27 as Hurricane Irene hit the mid-Atlantic states and began to track through New England. Hurricane Irene was a powerful storm that left in its wake massive flooding and significant infrastructure damage, and Entergy immediately deployed restoration teams from Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. In total, Entergy’s workforce–a mix of both Entergy utility company employees and contract restoration workers–provided more than 116,000 man-hours of assistance following Hurricane Irene’s wrath.
Entergy was able to provide a wide range of help following Hurricane Irene, including sending self-supporting restoration teams. As soon as these self-supporting crews arrived, they were able to begin their own damage assessment and coordinate with other utilities to help make the restoration process timely and efficient. Also unique to this restoration effort, Entergy was able to make their phone center representatives available to assist customers outside their service territory.