Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

ESCC reports that significant progress has been made in power restoration post-Laura

The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) on Sept. 2 reported that less than a week after Hurricane Laura slammed Louisiana and parts of Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas, electricity has been restored to approximately 737,000, or 75 percent, of customers impacted by Laura.

“Before Laura made landfall, investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives in the storm’s path mobilized an army of at least 29,000 workers from 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada to respond and to restore power as quickly as possible once it was safe to do so,” ESCC noted in a news release. The workforce includes company personnel, contractors, and mutual assistance workers.

Approximately 251,000 electricity customers remain without power as of 4:00 p.m. EDT, Sept. 2, with most of these outages in communities in Louisiana that suffered a direct impact from the hurricane.

“In these areas, the storm caused catastrophic and unprecedented damage to the high-voltage transmission system, and entire sections of the energy grid must be rebuilt before power can be restored,” the ESCC said in the news release.

While distribution lines already may have been repaired, some customers will be unable to have their power restored until the transmission lines serving their communities are rebuilt and reenergized, it said.

There also will be customers who cannot be reconnected at all due to the severe damage to their homes and businesses.

“Laura was a devastating storm, and we appreciate the coordinated response to this restoration mission that is taking place across the industry and government,” said Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association. “Tens of thousands of workers were mobilized quickly and are making progress in restoring power in the face of extensive damage and challenging geographic locations, as well as ensuring appropriate pandemic response measures are taken,” she said.

“Workers continue to be redeployed to the hardest-hit areas where, in many cases, both the distribution and transmission infrastructure must be completely rebuilt before power can be restored,” Ditto noted. Ditto is a member of the ESCC Steering Committee.

The ESCC continues to convene calls to discuss the restoration efforts with senior officials from the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security and with executives from all segments of the electric power industry.

Crews are following additional protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ESCC noted.