Lafayette is an island of green in a sea of red…as of the afternoon of September 3rd, two days after Gustav passed, a map of power outages provided by the state shows Lafayette parish with more than half of the population having power. None of the surrounding parishes has even half of its population served. As a parish we are doing much better than our neighbors. (Click for a larger image.)
We have LUS to thank.
My sister who lives in Baton Rouge—a 100 miles from the eye of Gustav— will be coming over to Lafayette—a city that took a direct hit—while she waits to get her power back because she says she expects to be out for more than a week.—When I went online it appears that her estimate of weeks of power loss is possible given that Entergy says that it will take weeks to bring their network completely up and are vocal about complaining that they’ve had more damage from Gustav than from any storm except Katrina.
• In terms of power outages, Hurricane Gustav is the second worst in Entergy’s 95-year history, peaking at about 850,000 early Tuesday – the overwhelming majority of them in Louisiana. That easily bypassed the 800,000 outages in Hurricane Rita in 2005. The only larger number of Entergy outages was 1.1 million in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, which has been described as one of the worst natural disasters in American history.
On the other hand LUS has 90% of its power back on and plans to be 100% by Friday.
Governor Jindal is complaining bitterly about the slow pace of electricity restoration.
About 1.5 million people are without electricity, Jindal said, and power companies estimated that about half would be restored within 10 days but the others could take up to six weeks.
“I told them that was absolutely not acceptable,” he said.
Six weeks! But he’s not complaining about LUS. According to the Advertiser:
Lafayette Utilities System reported that power is restored to about 90 percent of its 60,000 residential customers as of 1 p.m. …LUS Director Terry Huval said its customers should be restored by Friday.
UPDATE: The IND says that Huval now says that we’ll all be back up by today, Thursday. Amazing.
Compare that with other local providers:
At 11 a.m., SLEMCO said it had restored power to We have restored power to 33,618 customers. Another 51,640 were without power….said it took seven days to restore power following hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and the damage inflicted by Gustav was similar to those two storms.
CLECO, which supplies power to Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, St. Landry, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes, had more than 82,000 customers still without power as of Tuesday night.
That represents nearly 90 percent of its local customer base.
Entergy had 43,111 customers without power. About half of those were in rural Lafayette and St. Landry parishes.
It is pretty clear that that island of green on the state map is due to LUS bring Lafayette back on line quickly and efficiently–the large population center of Lafayette is 90% back while the private providers in the surrounding towns and rural areas are more that 50% down. Take LUS’ achievement out of the mix in our parish and we’d look just like the rest of the region: more than half still out of power and waiting a week or more to get back to anything like full provision.
It’s good to have a locally-owned public power utility at times like these. (And it will be just as good to have a locally-owned public telecom utility in the near future.)