Entergy monitoring river levels

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2011

BATON ROUGE – Entergy Louisiana, LLC and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. are prepared for predicted river level rises throughout the state and are encouraging customers in potentially affected areas to prepare while keeping safety as their top priority.

Currently, projections are that flooding of the Mississippi River will produce crests of 65.5 feet at Red River Landing, 45.5-47.5 feet in Baton Rouge, 34-36 feet in Donaldsonville and 17.5-19.5 feet in the New Orleans area. Until Entergy can determine the exact water levels at crest, no specific plans have been made to disconnect customers. Currently, only 427 customers have been de-energized statewide. Of those, 355 were de-energized in north Louisiana due to boat traffic safety concerns. However, Entergy Louisiana still urges customers to safely prepare for the possibility of outages.

The National Electric Safety Code stipulates electrical service must be disconnected if water levels rise too close to primary lines or when water levels approach a home’s electrical system or enter a house. Entergy Louisiana’s utilities will notify customers in affected areas when rising water indicates that a hazard may occur, or when local officials mandate that service disconnections are required.

Entergy is working closely with local officials to constantly evaluate river levels and monitor transmission towers and lines over river crossings. Helicopter patrols are being made daily of watch areas along the Mississippi River and Atchafalaya Basin, and advanced Light Detection and Ranging – a remote-sensing technology that measures distance using laser pulses to illuminate the target – is being utilized to confirm that there is a safe distance between the water and any energized conductors.

Entergy’s intent is to take every reasonable step to avoid interrupting service to areas not affected by flooding.

Any customers wishing to request a temporary service disconnect should call 1-800-ENTERGY. And anyone evacuating from a home or business should turn off the main breaker switch to the location before leaving, unless those breaker switches are wet or under water. Never attempt to disconnect power or operate breakers or switches that are wet or have been exposed to water. Call 1-800-ENTERGY to have this done.

“Entergy will only disconnect your electric service at your request, if we’re ordered to do so by a governing authority, or if there is a safety concern,” said Dennis Dawsey, vice president of transmission and distribution operations for Louisiana.

Entergy Louisiana encourages customers who inhabit or own property in areas that may be threatened by flooding to take appropriate measures to ensure their own personal safety as well as the safety of their property. Customers should prepare emergency-preparedness kits, including flashlights, a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries, spare batteries, canned food and a can opener, a supply of fresh water for several days and a first-aid kit.

Entergy Louisiana also reminds customers to remain safe and stay away from downed power lines and flooded areas. Do not walk in standing water and do not venture into areas of debris, since energized and dangerous power lines may not be visible.

What’s more, customers should use extreme caution when navigating boats in flooded areas around power lines to ensure the boats and their occupants do not come into contact with energized lines. Always be aware when hauling and operating your boat that masts, antennas or other vertical equipment never touch or come close to overhead power lines as the electrical current may be strong enough to bridge the gap and flow into the boat. Even if you have passed under power lines previously, it doesn’t mean they are safe. Rising water levels or expansion in lines from heat can make passing near the lines unsafe.

Entergy’s Corporate Security is working with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries to patrol and secure perimeters along the transmission lines where waters are rising to help ensure public safety. Members of the public need to maintain at least a 20-foot vertical and horizontal clearance of any power conductors.

Entergy’s Louisiana utility companies serve more than one million customers through the operating companies Entergy Louisiana, LLC and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. With operations in southern, central and northeastern Louisiana, the companies are part of Entergy Corporation’s electric system serving 2.7 million customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.