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Gustav Hits the Wires

Posted in Electricity Transmission,Louisiana by Cheryl Morgan on the September 3rd, 2008

Prior to Hurricane Gustav’s arrival in Louisiana, most of the energy-related discussion had been about oil & gas – the shut down of rigs and the threat to the transportation and refinery infrastructure. Although we seem to have been spared most of the feared problems, electricity transmission systems have been failing all over the state. Platts reports that almost half of the state’s customers were without power after the hurricane passed.

There are knock-on effects from that. Gas stations rely on having electricity to be able to operate pumps, so without electricity road transport is hobbled. The Seattle Times reports concerns over a dozen hospitals that are running off backup generators and urgently need fuel supplies. Patients are having to be airlifted out because the hospitals have no air conditioning. The availability of fresh water is probably also being affected by lack of electrical power. Governor Jindal has said that electricity supply is the single biggest issue in getting the state back on its feet.

Most of the electrical infrastructure in Louisiana is owned by Entergy, who say that 191 power lines and 210 substations are in need of repair. There are serious concerns about the stability of the system around New Orleans which has currently been isolated from the rest of the grid because so much of the connecting transmission is out of commission. Reuters has details.

Update: Platts now reports that 55%of Louisiana customers are without power, and that the hurricane has also caused significant outages in Mississippi and Arkansas.

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