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Power restoration crews work in sync on Old Hammond Highway between Chevelle Drive and Tara Boulevard, Sept. 7 in Baton Rouge.

From a story in this newspaper about the power grid from Mark Ballard: “Is there a way to make this whole thing bulletproof? Not really. Is there a way to make it much more resilient? Yeah, absolutely we can do that,” said Phillip May, Entergy Louisiana president and CEO.

Is there a way to make it more resilient? Yes, there is, Phillip May, and Entergy should have been doing it for years — but you work for an investor-owned utility, and they have been standing in the way of improvements to the grid for the sake of profits — and your bonuses. Heck, Entergy won’t even spend money to trim trees, much less infrastructure improvement.

According to Ballard’s excellent report, Entergy ratepayers are on the hook for $2.4 billion of storm damage.

We’ll see about that. For example, how old were the transmission towers that were toppled by Ida? I’d bet dollars to doughnuts they went back to the days of Louisiana Power & Light. And that brings us to the dirty little secret of utility company economics: if you let something alone until a storm like Ida knocks it down, you can get it into the rate base as “hurricane recovery” and let the poor chumps who need electricity pay for it over time. In this case, a long time.

The levee system was improved with federal dollars. Unless the federal government nationalizes all these money-grubbing public utilities, we will never see the kind of improvements needed to harden the infrastructure. If U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy thinks so, wait until the lobbyists start working on him.



Baton Rouge

After Katrina, Louisiana spent billions improving levees. After Ida, is the power grid next?