Entergy: Energizing Resilience

Operation Gridiron is a $1 billion effort to strengthen the grid involving New Orleans that will also better prepare the community for more frequent, stronger storms.

When business owners and operators in the Gulf South face challenges like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Winter Storm Uri and Hurricane Ida, the Category 4 hurricane that landed in Louisiana the same year, resilience shines immediately as they pivot from battening down the hatches to getting life back to normal for customers.

Entergy is emphasizing the need to accelerate the resilience of its electrical grid by proposing a 10-year plan that involves $15 billion in investments on hardening and improving its distribution and transmission systems. The company’s objective is to ensure the region can withstand and recover from weather and other disruptions, while fortifying the foundation for future economic growth for the communities they serve.

Building Resiliency

“Ongoing reliability improvements reduce the probability of asset failure as they age and experience expected wear and tear. However, resilience is focused on how we withstand and recover from challenges like storms, fires and other foreseeable risks. It is part of the DNA of the Gulf Coast and Entergy,” says Rod West, group president of utility operations for New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation, which through its utility operating companies serves three million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“A look at any part of our history shows that our communities are battle-tested. We serve the most resilient customers in the nation, and we know their number one question after a storm passes is, ‘When will life go back to normal?’”

Entergy’s service area includes the largest industrial base in the United States. “A stronger, more resilient grid means our commercial and industrial customers can do their own part to help our communities return to normal,” says West. “They know Entergy is there with them every step of the way, working tirelessly to help them get their stores back open, their factories back into production and their offices operational sooner—not only saving money on expenses related to evacuations, but kickstarting the restoration efforts and allowing people to resume their daily lives.”

The company has been investing in grid reliability and resilience for decades but has elevated its strategic priority to address current risks as well as the dependence on electricity that is needed to power all the devices that people today now depend upon. “It’s not just about strengthening the system, it’s also working with our regulators to put a responsible and affordable plan in place so that restoration costs are more manageable, and broader recovery is achieved more quickly following a severe weather event,” says West. “The best time to invest in crisis prevention is always before a crisis. Entergy, and the public officials who regulate us, have an opportunity to ensure that the next disruption, whatever it may be, has less impact on our customers and communities.”

West also notes, “We are already utilizing technological advancements and enhanced design standards that did not exist when we originally constructed our system to ensure that our ongoing investments all add up to a hardened system ready to withstand increasingly severe weather and other risks.” When looking at the job to be done, he says, “the time is now to increase investments in our region and provide the resilience our customers and communities need.”

The resilience upgrades proposed by Entergy include approximately $15 billion of planned investments over a 10-year period, including distribution hardening covering 32,000 miles of distribution lines, 770 miles of underground lines and 465,000 structures. Transmission-hardening activities include 1,700 miles of lines and 8,600 structures, as well as 20 substation flood-mitigation projects.

In proposing this massive commitment, Entergy is applying lessons learned from previous resilience efforts. During Ida, roughly 380 newly built transmission structures were in the direct path of the storm, and only three of these structures were damaged. Following the storm, Entergy invested in similar infrastructure built to higher standards that will improve the system’s resilience going forward.

Improving Infrastructure

In 2023, Entergy doubled down on improvements. For instance, after deadly tornadoes ravaged Arkansas and Mississippi, the company replaced damaged wood transmission poles with concrete and steel ones.

Entergy is also working with commercial customers in Louisiana with a “resilience as a service” program called Power Through, to help provide a reliable and affordable backup generation solution. The program aims to deliver whole-facility backup generation at a much lower cost than what it would typically be if a customer were to build their own backup solution.

As the company looks to the future, there are significant investment plans on the table to enhance service to customers. Entergy New Orleans launched the most comprehensive energy grid upgrade plan the city has seen, Operation Gridiron. This proposed 10-year accelerated-resilience plan represents a $1 billion investment that will reduce outages and improve restoration time.

Entergy Louisiana’s plan includes a $9.6 billion proposed investment over the next 10 years to harden the grid with projects that would have the greatest impact at the lowest reasonable cost.

To learn more about Entergy’s efforts to build a more resilient future for businesses, visit GoEntergy.com


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