The quickening pace of power restoration in Southeast Texas has prompted Entergy Texas, Inc. to move the estimated date for 100 percent restoration from Oct. 6 to this weekend, as many as 12 days earlier for some customers.
The company's outage report from Monday notes that 337,692 customers impacted by Hurricane Ike now have power. With 54,908 still in need of electricity, that puts the restoration rate at 86 percent, just nine days after the storm's landfall, beating the previous estimate of Oct. 6. In the company's more western areas, the 100 percent restoration date for customers who can take power has moved up to Wednesday, Sept. 24. In the east, where storm surge devastated some coastal areas, 100 percent restoration of those who can take power is set for Friday, Sept. 26.
Restoration following Ike outpaces more than just the predictions. It also outpaces the work of restoring power that took place following Hurricane Rita in 2005. Nine days after Rita, the restoration rate stood at 61 percent. And that faster restoration has been in the face of a greater number of outages. Fewer than 300,000 customers were left without power following Rita while Ike left 392,000 in the dark, 99 percent of the company's customers.
"We set a goal of restoring power as safely and quickly as possible," said Joe Domino, president and chief executive officer, Entergy Texas, Inc. "A number of factors have combined to give us the good results we are experiencing."
Domino cited three areas that made the difference:
- The company continues to improve the storm restoration process and apply lessons learned from previous storms to find ways to restore power more efficiently. For example, with the Ike restoration, helicopters were used to help replace damaged transmission poles in remote areas. Also, a special crane was put into use for restoration on back lot lines behind homes where trucks cannot go. The crane can lift a utility pole over a house and set it in position. Methods like these help expedite restoration.
- When Hurricane Ike struck on Sept. 13, much of the Entergy workforce was already in emergency mode with Hurricane Gustav restoration, mainly in Louisiana. The company did not have to do a "build-up" of restoration workers. Crews were able to move immediately into Entergy Texas for Hurricane Ike restoration.
- Outstanding help was available from utilities outside of Texas. In addition to Entergy Texas' own crews, restoration workers from the sister companies of Entergy Arkansas, Entergy Mississippi and Entergy Louisiana came to Southeast Texas to help. This, in addition to utility crews from 34 states and Canada, brought to restoration workforce to a peak of more than 14,000.