The New Orleans City Council unanimously approved an investigation into Entergy New Orleans' and Entergy Louisiana's restoration efforts during days-long outages following Hurricane Isaac. The action came Sept. 6.
At a hastily called Council Utility Committee meeting two days earlier, which was convened to examine Entergy's work and communications after the storm, Charles Rice, CEO of Entergy New Orleans, said the work the company did to restore power to the city was "outstanding," adding, "We welcome the evaluation."
The council and members of the public, however, criticized the utility, questioning whether it was prepared for the storm, why it took so long to restore service and why the company was unable to provide neighborhood-level estimates of when power would come back. Neighborhoods across town were left hot and dark for nearly a week.
"The council has been inundated with complaints about how long it's taken to restore service," said Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, chair of the Utility Committee.
Citizens and council members also criticized Entergy's communication efforts during and after the storm (see Commentary, p. 14). Council members and speakers at the meeting said the power company lagged in getting people neighborhood-specific restoration estimates, relying mostly on its website's outage map to deliver information.
"My assessment is frustration that they could have communicated better," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a Sept. 5 news conference. "I think that's pretty obvious." Landrieu also commended the council for initiating the investigation.
Under the council resolution, Entergy is required to provide answers about post-Isaac efforts, as well as details on how it spent post-Katrina federal grants intended to pay for system restoration and infrastructure strengthening. The report is due in four months. — Charles Maldonado