NEW ORLEANS - Today, Council President and Utilities Chair Helena Moreno signaled her intention to bring forward a prudence investigation of Entergy New Orleans’ (ENO) actions around the 2021 Mardi Gras Blackout, or load shedding event. Moreno did so after formally receiving a preliminary report from the Council’s expert utility team outlining initial findings of critical technical and operational issues within the ENO’s real-time response to the event.
“This report further confirms the fact that thousands of New Orleanians were unnecessarily left out in the cold that night due to missteps perpetrated by ENO,” said President Moreno. “To ensure we see justice and accountability, I intend to propose a formal prudence investigation at the April 29th Council Utilities Committee meeting.
This is the same kind of investigation we’ve used in the ‘paid actors’ and reliability inquiries that have resulted in penalties against ENO totaling in the millions of dollars. We all know these types of failures are unacceptable and New Orleanians are right to demand better of the company.”
In response to direction from the Utilities Committee, this week the Council utility advisors returned an initial report on the February 16, 2021 “load shedding” or blackout event and found that a series of technical and operational errors led to more than 18,000 residents unnecessarily losing power for nearly two hours that night. Among the likely reasons, the report notes Entergy mislabeled its own power “feeders” within its computer system, leading to unnecessary power cuts across the city. Entergy also failed to understand the amount of “load” or power being served behind several substations, leading to further unnecessary cuts. Finally, the report finds Entergy was unaware of the critical customers attached to certain feeders, including specifically equipment Sewerage and Water Board uses to provide essential water and sewerage services, due to a faulty classification system.
The proposed prudence investigation into ENO is the third such investigation in so many years, including inquiries into the ‘actors’ and reliability matters that have resulted in $6 million in fines against the company. This inquiry is separate and apart from the Council’s recent announcement that it has filed a $1 billion case against Entergy and its subsidiaries over performance and safety issues at its Grand Gulf nuclear generation plant. The Council also continues to review the extraordinary billing swings over this past winter to ensure there are no discrepancies that disadvantage customers.
You can read the full advisors report on the Mardi Gras Blackout here.
Chief of Staff, Office of Helena Moreno