Thursday, September 04, 2008

Whither Entergy?

One thing that I can't understand is why Entergy New Orleans won't provide a street by street update of power outages. In today's day and age, I am certain that Entergy, by this time, knows exactly which homes are without power and exactly why they are without power.

How difficult would it be for Entergy to map this out on their website? On the one hand, this would really help support the public officials in their re-entry plans. If people knew definitively that their homes were without power, they might wait that extra day or so that public officials are requesting before returning. Entergy New Orleans does have this map up on their website, but as you can see it is useless to individual homeowners. The only way homeowners can know for sure whether or not they have power is to come in town and check out their homes. Another benefit to posting a street update of power outages is that it avoids the angry and frustrated phone calls that homeowners will be making to the power company, to the media, and to the public officials that this lack of information produces. For the sake of public order and good will, Entergy should do this. It is a simply question of transparency and honesty in disseminating information to homeowners. There is just no reason for us to be in the dark about this subject.

Maybe they fear a larger backlash if this information were to become public. Some might complain about why some areas seem to be getting power while others aren't. Some may complain about discrimination in the prioritization of deployment of teams to restore energy to certain neighborhoods over others. Some may just complain for the sake of complaining. This will in all likelihood come to pass. But I think that they shouldn't fear this so much. They should trust the people. We might not like the information we get, but I'm pretty sure we'll be much more appreciative at least of having this information than feeling like we are being snowed and stonewalled.


Eric said...

I know in Oklahoma when we had statewide major power outages during an ice storm a few years ago, energy companies were concerned about power coming online in one area, and too many people in that area pulling power off the grid all at once, which would complicate efforts in another part of the city to get power back on. With these considerations in mind, and in spite of many complaints, the utility companies refused to tell people what areas they were working on and when they would be back online. It caused a lot of frustration, but later on I remember seeing an interview where somebody said the net result was that they got everyone back online a lot faster than they would have otherwise.

Not sure if that is what is going on there, but it is a possibility.

Huck said...

That would make sense, but an Entergy official was asked that question point-blank on the radio yesterday and he said that this concern was unfounded. He said that because of the way the various distribution lines were organized, homes serviced by one distribution line couldn't draw energy from distribution lines servicing other areas. In essence, the system in place was such that minimized the problem of brownouts caused by overloading any one distribution line beyond its capacity. He ended by saying that those homes who did have power should function as they normally would and that there was no need to conserve energy so as not to strain the system. Personlly, I think it's just an irrational fear of giving out certain kinds of sensitive, but critical, information in crisis situations. I don't think this fear is warranted.