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Cleco crews to wrap up power restoration in Grant, Rapides and Vernon parishes

Work continues in Beauregard and Calcasieu parishes
Cleco
Cleco(KALB)
Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 6:57 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2020 at 5:05 PM CDT
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The latest update provided to us by Cleco:

PINEVILLE, La. (Cleco) - As of 4 p.m., Cleco had restored power to 99 percent of the 140,000 customers affected by Hurricane Laura.

“There are a small number of customers without power in Grant, Rapides and Vernon parishes, and we’re working to restore power to these remaining customers today. Any customer in one of these three parishes who does not have power after today, should call and report an outage,” said James Lass, director of distribution operations and emergency management. “Crews will continue to work in Beauregard and Calcasieu parishes until all customers have power.”

Instructions for customers in Grant, Rapides and Vernon parishes who do not have power after Friday, Sept. 11: Please call Cleco at 1-800-622-6537 to report a power outage.

Instructions for customers who need a reconnect after repairs: If there is any damage to your home or business or to the electrical service entrance that may pose a danger if power is restored, Cleco cannot energize the service until repairs are made by a licensed electrician. Once repairs are made, the electrician should call the appropriate governing authority in your area for instructions regarding permitting and inspections.

The Cleco website will be temporarily unavailable for system maintenance Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. CST. This includes MyAccount and KUBRA, Cleco’s one-time electronic bill payment service.

CLECO OUTAGE MAP

Restoration Assessment

Below are estimated times for restoration (ETR). Please note that unexpected damage or inclement weather could impact restoration efforts and timelines.

  • Beauregard Parish: Due to flooded areas, crews are bringing in specialized equipment to continue restoration efforts.
  • Calcasieu Parish: Dequincy – Crews continue making progress and restore power to customers each day. Crews restored power to the nursing home and several industrial customers yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 10. Approximately 53 line crews are working in Dequincy.
  • Grant Parish: All remaining customers who can accept power are expected to be restored Friday, Sept. 11.
  • Rapides Parish: All remaining customers who can accept power are expected to be restored Friday, Sept. 11.
  • Vernon Parish: All remaining customers who can accept power are expected to be restored Friday, Sept. 11.

Customers should be aware of these common utility scams:

  • Disconnection Deception Scammers call threatening disconnection of your service unless you make an immediate payment with a pre-paid card.
  • Overpayment Tactic Scammers call claiming you overpaid your bill, and you need to provide your personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
  • Vacate Your Home Scammers claim there is a need to replace your meter or other equipment, and you must leave your home for 72 hours.
  • Power Restoration Charge Scammers call offering to restore your electricity more quickly for a fee after a severe storm.
  • Identification Attack Rather than directing victims to call a 1-800 number, the scammers direct callers to press 1 to collect more data in an attempt to get your personal information.

How Cleco customers can protect themselves:

  • Hang up the phone immediately Do not call back the number given by the caller. Cleco customers can reach a Cleco representative by calling 1-800-622-6537 or reaching out through Cleco’s official Facebook page at @ClecoPower. Also, customers can verify account information through the company’s online customer account management service, MyAccount.
  • Delete deceptive emails
  • Shut the door on scammers Cleco service personnel will always wear clothing that clearly identifies them as Cleco employees. Cleco contractors also should be able to produce a photo identification card which clearly identifies them as a Cleco contractor.

How to prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Don’t leave children and pets in cars even with a window cracked open.
  • If you have a pre-existing health problem, ask your doctor before jumping into outdoor activities.

Distribution damage included:

  • 1,600 downed or broken poles
  • 1,000 damaged transformers
  • 4,700 damaged crossarms
  • 5,500 trees on power lines
  • 350 miles of distribution conductor down

Transmission system impact included:

  • 163 damaged structures
  • 408 trees on lines
  • 53 lines out of service
  • 35 substations out of service

“With system assessment and restoration efforts ongoing, we expect these numbers to increase,” said Lass.

Damage Assessment Continues

With system assessment and restoration efforts ongoing, the company continues to find damage to its system. Distribution damage to date Crews have found 1,600 downed or broken poles, 1,000 damaged transformers, 4,600 damaged crossarms, 5,500 trees on power lines and approximately 350 miles of distribution conductor down. Transmission damage to date Crews have found 409 trees reported on transmission lines and 167 transmission structures damaged.

The company’s staging sites are where Cleco and contractor crews sleep or where transportation to lodging accommodations is provided, where meals are served, drinks are provided and where crews can access supplies or materials needed to support restoration efforts.

“The health and safety of our crews is our priority and plays a key role in how quickly we are able to complete power restoration,” said Lass.

Customers can safely support crews by:

  • Yielding and giving crews the right-of-way when you see them driving
  • Sending thank you videos and messages of encouragement on Facebook @ClecoPower
  • Not stopping crews to ask when they will be finished working
  • Practicing social distancing and avoiding work zones
  • Making sure your main breaker is off when operating your generator so that electricity isn’t back feeding to crews working in your area
  • Waiting until crews arrive before trying to remove tree limbs from power lines

What to do before and after power is restored:

  • Check your property for damage. When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes.
  • Make sure the water is safe to drink. Call local authorities or listen to news outlets for boil advisories.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezers closed.
  • Unplug appliances and electronic devices when the power is out (air conditioning units, refrigerators, computers, laptops, televisions, etc.)
  • Operate portable generators in a well-ventilated area, never run a generator indoors, and plug appliances directly into generators with grounded extension cords that can handle the load. Don’t plug a generator cord directly into a wall outlet. A generator can back feed electricity through your electric wiring to the entire Cleco circuit. This can cause injury or even death to a worker attempting to repair that circuit and anyone else who comes in contact with power lines.
  • If water is rising near your home or business, turn off electricity at the main breaker. Evacuate and do not return until waters have completely receded. Wait until the water recedes and have an electrician check the building’s wiring before using the electricity.

Safety tips to follow after a storm:

“When the power goes out, some customers rely on a generator for temporary power,” said Lass. “Generators, when used correctly, can provide backup power to a customer’s home or business, but we remind our customers to be safe.”

  • Never run a generator indoors.
  • Thoroughly read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper use of a portable generator.
  • Operate the generator in a well-ventilated area.
  • Plug appliances directly into portable generators with grounded extension cords that can handle the load.
  • Don’t plug a generator cord directly into a wall outlet. A generator can back feed electricity through a home’s electric wiring to the entire Cleco circuit. This can damage a generator and in some instances cause injury or even death to a worker attempting to repair that circuit.
  • Don’t exceed the rated capacity of a generator.
  • Only refuel a generator when the engine is off and cool.
  • Report power outages by calling 1-800-622-6537 or by texting “OUT” from your cell phone to 25326 (Cleco). To sign up for text message notifications, text “REG” to 25326.
  • Operate portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas and plug appliances directly into generators with grounded extension cords. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Assume all downed power lines are live and stay away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 1-800-622-6537 and 911.
  • If water is rising, turn off electricity at the main breaker, evacuate and stay away until waters have completely receded.

Key points on Hurricane Laura:

  • Strongest storm to hit Louisiana since 1856
  • Hard hit parishes were Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Grant, Rapides and Vernon
  • Damage to transmission infrastructure must be repaired first
  • Uprooted trees; these trees fell on power lines; these lines have to be picked up
  • Knocked down electric poles; these poles must be changed out; this takes time
  • More than 2,000 individuals working (this includes regular employees, distribution contractors, vegetation specialists and transmission contractors)
  • Cleco serves a lot of heavily wooded, rural areas; it takes more time to get these areas back up

Below is an overview of how Cleco restores power after a storm:

  • Safety is a priority in everything Cleco does. Once conditions are safe, workers begin to access damage by land and/or air.
  • Next, transmission lines are inspected and repaired. These lines are critical because they carry electricity from the power plants. Once transmission lines are repaired, workers begin repairing distribution lines. These are the lines that carry power to homes and businesses.
  • Power is then restored to critical community services first, such as nursing homes, hospitals, police departments, etc.
  • Power is then restored to the greatest number of customers in the shortest amount of time until power is restored to all customers who can receive power.

For additional information on Cleco’s storm response, follow the company on Facebook @ClecoPower or visit Cleco’s Storm Center page at cleco.com/storm-center.

MORE INFORMATION ON LAURA:

Cleco Power has approximately 288,000 customers and at the height of the storm roughly half – 140,000 customers – were without power.

  • Excluding the St. Tammany area which was not impacted, 73% of Cleco Power customers did not have power across the remainder of our service territory
  • From an historic perspective, Hurricane Laura is tied for top 5 landfall strength
  • Made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane just 7 mph shy of a Category 5
  • Strongest storm to hit Louisiana since 1856 – over 150 years
  • Hardest hit parishes were Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Grant, Rapides and Vernon
  • As of 8 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3, Cleco had restored power to 81% of customer impacted by Hurricane Laura which is 112,776 customers with a remaining 27,224 without power.

Peak wind speeds across Cleco Power’s service territory, as reported by National Weather Service

  • Calcasieu 127 mph
  • Alexandria 86 mph
  • New Iberia 76 mph
  • Natchitoches 66 mph
  • Crowley 60 mph
  • Mansfield 59 mph
  • Opelousas 56 mph

Damage Report as of Wednesday, Sept. 2. Statewide, Cleco’s system experienced extensive damage, including damage to its transmission and distribution equipment. Thus far, during initial damage assessments, from a distribution standpoint, crews have found 1,600 downed or broken poles, 1,000 damaged transformers, 4,600 damaged crossarms, 4,800 trees on distribution power lines and approximately 300 miles of distribution conductor down. For transmission, we have 408 trees reported on transmission lines and 163 transmission structures damaged. With system assessment and restoration efforts ongoing, the company expects these numbers to increase.

Pandemic – How is COVID-19 affecting restoration? In addition to Cleco’s standard storm and safety protocols, Cleco crews and contractors must take additional safety precautions due to COVID-19, including traveling in separate vehicles, when possible, and adjusting crew staging locations, and we have also had to adjust our lodging to adhere to pandemic protocols.

Restoration resources

  • Pre-storm: In addition to Cleco resources, Cleco secured 1,100 additional resources (line mechanics and vegetation specialists) in addition to all available Cleco personnel (~500) before Hurricane Laura made landfall.
  • Post-storm: In addition to Cleco personnel, the company has over 3,300 line contractors and tree trimmers from about 16 states (1,800 distribution line contractors, 250 transmission line contractors, 1,250 tree trimmers); plus more than 400 external miscellaneous resources (logistics personnel, damage assessors, cleanup crews, security, etc.) dedicated to restoration efforts.
  • Established 14 staging areas (more than Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita combined)
  • 2,250 vehicles and other equipment (bulldozers, marsh buggies, tree chippers, etc.)

Challenges we faced

  • Heavily damaged system
  • Heat and humidity
  • Lodging
  • Pandemic protocols
  • Limited hotel rooms (preferred lodging solution) due to lack of electricity and water at hotels
  • Competition with other utilities, government agencies, evacuees and other large businesses for hotels, logistical services and ground space for staging areas
  • Accessing rural areas even though we have specialized equipment

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Copyright 2020 Cleco. All rights reserved.

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