Two units of power provider Entergy Corp. have completed three major transmission projects to import more potentially cheaper electricity into southeastern Louisiana, while providing lines with more resistance to hurricane winds, company officials said Thursday.Two of the lines are located in Amite South - New Orleans-based Entergy's service corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that handles both Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana.
The third line replaces one destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in Plaquemines Parish - and moves it to an easier location for maintenance and, in the case of another storm, quicker restoration.The projects totaled about $100 million.At a news conference, the utilities' chief executive, Renae
Conley, said that by increasing capacity, the utilities would have additional options to obtain power, especially during periods where
imported power can be obtained cheaper than Entergy's own generated power.The two lines in Amite South will increase the utilities' ability to import purchased power by about 350 megawatts. George Bartlett, Entergy's director of transmission projects, said that although it's difficult to be exact because of wide differences in individual usage, 350 megawatts is generally considered enough to power 52,000 residences.Public Service Commission chairman Lambert Boissiere said the lines will increase service reliability and stabilize power costs, especially during periods when the costs of generating fuel rise.Customers pay the cost of the fuel on a direct charge on their bills.As an example, power costs were soaring in 2007 when natural gas traded above $12 per thousand cubic feet - compared with the current cost of about $3.75. Since Entergy generates much of its power with natural gas, power purchased from the outside - with a cheaper fuel - could be imported in greater quantities during times of high gas prices.One Amite South project, costing $44.2 million, includes 18
miles of new line across St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes, along with a rerouting of 4.5 miles of existing line, a new substation in St. James Parish and improvements to three substations in St. John the Baptist Parish. The other Amite South project, costing $18.2 million, involves
the upgrade of about 19 miles of line in Livingston, Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes, along with substation improvements in
Ascension Parish.The facilities are designed to withstand winds of 140 miles per hour.Boissiere said that if the lines had been in place during the
2005 and 2008 hurricane seasons, which put out hundreds of thousands of customers, sometimes for weeks, power could have been
restored quicker. The third project, costing $39.7 million, is aimed at lower Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, where electrical equipment was devastated by Katrina. A 19-mile transmission line was moved out of an environmentally sensitive area to a location along a highway, cutting maintenance and restoration costs, said George Bartlett, director of Entergy's transmission projects.Older portions of the area's distribution system also were replaced. The line and the new facilities are designed to withstand winds of 150 miles per hour, Bartlett said. Bartlett said the wind resistance meets the latest U.S.standards. However, he said that although the new lines are more resistant, the vast majority of downed lines are not caused by high winds - but by flying debris.
COMMENTING POLICY:Readers are encouraged to post comments that are germane to the article. We reserve the right to remove any user, and to delete comments that contain abusive language or personal threats, as well as those that are racist or demeaning. Readers may report comments by clicking "Report Abuse." Once a comment has been flagged, a Baltimore Sun staffer will investigate. Click here for more information on commenting.