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Photo by Johnna Crider during blackout from Hurricane Ida.

Climate Change

Entergy Makes $11 Billion A Year But Failed To Protect Louisiana’s Power Grid During Ida — And Why

Entergy failed to protect Louisiana’s power grid from Hurricane Ida and many residents suffered from it. The same company is also against microgrids, which would make our grid resilient and help us weather through disasters easier and with less suffering. And now, 4WWL reports that Entergy Corporation and two of its subsidiaries, Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans, are accused in a class-action lawsuit of “grossly inadequate maintenance and inspection” of a system that “would not sustain even a hurricane with wind gusts below 100 miles per hour.”

The lawsuit states that Entergy failed to invest in a resilient and redundant electric grid. Considering that local and state regulators approved of increases in Entergy’s rates to cover new power plants and infrastructure repairs, this is drawing questions as to why Entergy had failures during Ida. If the company had properly maintained its system, perhaps we wouldn’t have had such massive power outages?

In my neck of the woods, half of my neighborhood was without power, while just a few blocks away, people had power and didn’t even lose it at all in the storm. Entergy crews told us that the lines feeding into the substation were heavily damaged and that they had to be replaced — that that’s what was taking so long.

Stuart Smith is leading a team of plaintiff attorneys and he has accused Entergy of “greed and lies” that “set the foreseeable stage” for customers being forced out of their homes for days or weeks and for the City of New Orleans’ sewer system to lose power. He hopes that the lawsuit will force Entergy to address the problems with its transmission system after it has not done so even facing millions of dollars of fines and threats of antitrust investigations.

Smith told 4WWL, “There’s going to have to be a negotiation with the stockholders to give back that money that they took to essentially harden their systems, which they didn’t use on their systems.

“But that this can never happen again in a city like New Orleans. I mean, we have had enough.”

A former state legislator and another member of the plaintiffs’ legal team, Juan LaFonta, said:

“It’s laughable that we allowed this to go on this far and this long.

“I mean, they knew prior to this storm the stuff that happened with the windstorm that came through a couple of months ago, that (Entergy) had challenges and didn’t make it public.”

The lawsuit also claimed that Entergy makes $11 billion annually while repeatedly deferring maintenance on its critical transmission system of high-voltage wires, towers, and poles; and cited an interview with the company’s CEO, Phillip May, who told WWL-TV on August 30 that his company’s transmission equipment had been engineered to withstand 150 mph winds. Considering that was the wind speed of Ida’s winds when it made landfall in Louisiana, I would say that Ida proved the CEO to be incredibly mistaken.

More Lies & Corruption

This isn’t all WWL found. In the same interview, May said that a main transmission line tower that had collapsed in Avondale was “very robustly engineered” and that it didn’t need to be replaced. He also said that it passed an inspection in December of 2020. However, the news station found that the tower, which was 400-feet high, had collapsed into a rusty heap during the storm. In addition to this, the Louisiana Public Service Commission debunked May’s claim. It said that there are no inspection reports on file for the tower. Entergy declined WWL-TV’s repeated requests for a copy of the report May cited.

I may not be an engineer, but I don’t think that a “very robustly engineered” tower would collapse into a rusty heap so easily. Depending on the type of steel that was used, it can start to show signs of rusting within a few days of exposure to elements such as air or water, but the way the article described it shows that this tower hasn’t really been properly looked after or well-engineered.

Opposed To Microgrids

I wrote about this just after my power came back on after Ida. Louisiana needs to embrace building microgrids and more distributed energy. However, Entergy is opposed to distributed energy. It has consistently opposed local renewable energy and energy storage in its own plans. It should be noted that utilities get incentives when they are able to convince regulators to approve large, expensive power plants instead of enabling distributed energy such as rooftop solar. In essence, it’s all about greed, money, and profits. Hopefully, this lawsuit will shake things up for the company and force regulators to do their jobs and actually regulate.

 
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Written By

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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