Entergy staff serious about storm preparation
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012
By ROBIN SHANNON
RESERVE – With the 2012 hurricane season in full swing, officials with Entergy’s Reserve regional office gathered government officials and business leaders from the River Parishes together for a panel discussion that showcased the power company’s commitment to preparation.
Entergy Louisiana Customer Service Manager Sheila Butler said leaders are regularly invited to the Reserve facility so the community can have a better understanding of what the company goes through before, during and after a storm to either keep the lights on or quickly get them back on.
“We want people to understand our processes,” Butler said. “People want to know what we are doing to keep their electricity up and running. Sometimes people are out longer than others, and we want them to understand why.”
The gathering of about 20 parish officials and business leaders heard from area line supervisor Traye Granger, operations coordinator for vegetative services Carl Zeringue and planner and scheduler Nancy Aucoin. The three offered a comprehensive review of what Entergy accomplishes before, during and after an event involving a massive loss of power.
“We use prior years experience as a tool to improve in the future,” Granger said. “It helps us to set up a feeder priority to determine which lines to restart in which order.”
Granger said when a storm threatens the Gulf Coast Entergy acts early to make sure essential employees who will be staying throughout have their families’ plans squared area far ahead of time.
“Half of the team goes home, gets everything taken care of and comes back so the other half can go,” Granger said. “The idea is to have them get that done now so that it isn’t a worry when work needs to be done. This is all done four days prior to landfall.”
From there, Granger said the team moves from pre-landfall to landfall and restoration.
“We don’t go out and work in winds higher than 45 miles per hour,” he said. “Once everything has calmed, we begin damage assessment, clear downed lines and begin to get our transmission system back up and running.”
Granger said the local network includes St. John the Baptist, St. James, St. Charles and Ascension parishes and features 13 substations and 660 miles of circuits.
“Different neighborhoods could sometimes be on different circuits,” Granger said. “We try to get hospitals and vital services up first.”
Zeringue, who mostly handles vegetation management, gave a brief explanation of Entergy’s plan of attack when it comes to trimming trees. He explained that fallen branches are the number one cause of outages.
“We do some routine maintenance to keep track of trouble areas, but sometimes the only way we know of a problem tree is for residents to call our office,” Zeringue said. “If you start to see leaves browning around a line, the branch is touching, and it needs to be trimmed back.”
Zeringue talked about the methods Entergy uses to handle tree cuts and the different shapes trees near lines tend to take. He said branches must be at least four to six feet from a line.
“Trees get weathered over time,” Zeringue said. “Sometimes it isn’t enough to just trim branches. Sometimes the entire tree needs to come out.”
Aucoin offered a discussion on what gets done after a storm with regard to planning and scheduling strategic work sites. She said the local office often enlists the help of other regional linesman that can be called in or sent out at any time.
“They are always on the move,” she said. “We budget our time wisely in an effort to get the most we can out of them.”
Aucoin said staging sites are often set up at Joe Keller Stadium in Reserve and at the St. John Community Center in LaPlace. She said neither location is open to the public.
“They are work sites,” Aucoin said. “Anyone who wants information is free to come to the regional office, and we will do our best to help.”