Entergy New Orleans on Monday is beginning technological upgrades to the electric power transmission system along the base of the Mississippi River levee at Monroe Street and Leake Avenue in the Riverbend neighborhood.
The $30 million project is necessary as Entergy prepares to deactivate its aging Michoud generating facility, which was placed into service during the 1960s and which provides about three-quarters of the city’s power.
After the Michoud plant is closed in 2016, power will be provided by the Ninemile power plant on the West Bank, which needs to be connected to the city by new transmission lines. That will involve installing new conductors on the utility’s existing transmission lines and then pulling the new lines through them.
Installing those lines will require revolving street closures, no-parking zones and restrictions on pedestrians and bicyclists, who could be put in danger if they are in the area while lines are installed.
The work will be done in the Audubon Park, upper Magazine Street and Annunciation Street areas from mid-July through October.
A second phase will run lines from Carrollton to Xavier University.
The upgrades are required by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator prior to the Michoud deactivation. They will enhance reliability, increase transmission capacity and help ensure the availability of affordable power, Entergy officials said.
Residents and businesses will be notified as the project progresses into their neighborhoods.
“Our top priority is to have a safe, accident-free environment for both the public and project crews. As a result, on-site safety measures have been tailored to meet the needs of the community and the impacted areas,” said Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans.
Preparation for the transmission system upgrade is underway along the base of the levee.
The work will result in a temporary closure of the levee bike path from Fern to Walnut streets through Aug. 20 and again from Sept. 10 to Sept. 20.
Residents and customers in the affected areas will receive specific information about the transmission line replacement procedure and how it will affect them.
The Power to Grow NOLA website will provide detailed project information for those who are interested. Customers may voice specific questions and concerns through the Power to Grow NOLA hotline at (504) 670-3624 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multiple crews will be working simultaneously on the designated streets and will use large equipment including 24-foot-wide bucket trucks and 120-foot cranes at each of the existing transmission poles. Several stages of work will occur during each of nine project segments, and each stage of work will have different impacts.
“Entergy New Orleans customer service representatives will be visibly present and available for residents and business owners to ensure that everyone knows the safety procedures, project work zones and timelines. In fact, this process has already started,” Rice said. “In addition, automobile, pedestrian and bicycle traffic plans, complete with maps, will be made available to the public on the Power to Grow NOLA website.”
The project’s second phase will begin in October and will primarily affect the Carrollton-Hollygrove area, including Cambronne Street, and the outer portions of the Xavier University footprint.