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New Orleans Grid 'Fragile'

November 06, 2005|From Reuters

NEW ORLEANS — The bankrupt utility that supplies power and gas to New Orleans has not set a timetable for restoring service to the city's storm-ravaged eastern neighborhoods and the Lower 9th Ward, the company's chief executive told an angry crowd of residents Saturday.

Entergy New Orleans, a subsidiary of Entergy Corp., needs a $450-million federal bailout to replace equipment destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and to finance operations over the next year, Chief Executive Dan Packer said.

Packer, speaking to more than 400 evacuees spilling out of a jammed City Hall meeting room, said Entergy did not expect to be able to restart its two gas-fired power plants in New Orleans until summer 2006.

Entergy has restored electric service to only about 24% of its pre-storm level in New Orleans and has to repair and replace more than half of its substations after they were swamped with floodwater, he said.

"At this moment, we have a very, very fragile electric system," Packer said, adding: "This storm is unlike anything we have ever seen."

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