Entergy’s Readiness for 2013 Storms

HOUSTON, June 26, 2013 – With petro-chemical industries along the Gulf Coast responsible for nearly half of all refinery production in the United States, a hard-hitting hurricane can create problems that extend well beyond the point of landfall.

Greg Grillo, storm incident commander for Entergy Corporation which provides electricity to much of the Gulf Coast in Texas, says the company is keenly aware of the importance of the industrial component of the area it serves and is prepared for whatever this year’s storm season may bring.

Grillo made his comments to members of the Gulf Coast Power Association during a special oil and gas forum held in Houston on Wednesday, June 26.

“Our Texas service area includes some of the largest industrial complexes in the nation,” Grillo said. “In fact, more than a fourth of all U.S. natural gas production comes straight from the Lone Star state. If the petro-chemical and industrial sectors along the Gulf Coast take a hard hit from a storm, the impact can be felt well beyond Texas’ borders.”

But, Grillo said, Entergy has its eyes on the Gulf—and the credentials to prove it can take care of business when a storm hits.

Entergy, he said, is the only utility in the nation to win an Edison Electric Institute Emergency Response Award all 15 years they have been awarded. Since 1999, the company has won 19 awards including both the Emergency Recovery Award, for companies responding to storms in their areas, and the Emergency Assistance Award, for help given to other utilities.

“With the number of weather crises that have taken place in recent years and the many utilities involved in power restoration, it is not a mere coincidence that Entergy has won these awards,” Grillo said. “Our service territory is often very literally in the eye of the storm, and we have worked hard to learn from each storm and apply those lessons to our overall restoration plans.”

Grillo cited three key elements to the company’s emergency response protocols.

  • A dedicated system outage response organization within the company’s overall organization.
  • Detailed emergency plans specific to geography and business unit—plans that are drilled and updated each year.
  • A highly experienced team of employees to work the plan.

He noted that Entergy’s emergency plans and organization mirror the federal and state Incident Command System structure, which makes it easier for the company to interact with other agencies.

“In addition to our specific, well-practiced plan, we also have a specific three-point philosophy regarding power restoration, he said. “First point is simple and should be expected-- safety is always first. Second is process. We restore service as safely and quickly as possible, following a prioritized process, while providing accurate and complete customer information. Third, is efficiency. We obtain and manage our resources effectively and we pay careful attention to the communications process.

Grillo noted that restoration efforts in recent years have been impacted by changing customer demands in the area of communication. Social media now plays a much larger role than in the past. Not only is the company focused on responding to social media needs, but it also has upgraded its outage and restoration mapping and is engaging in multi-channel, real-time communication that includes Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging to customers.

Grillo left the audience with a number of key takeaways. Again citing “safety first,” he also referenced the need to:

  • Plan. Detailed advance planning for “worst case scenarios.”
  • Practice. Realistic drills and exercises.
  • Perform. Develop organization experience and culture.
  • Pronounce. Focus on communications, not just infrastructure repair. Provide timely accurate and complete information to customers, employees, regulators, politicians and media.

“Emergency plans should include organization structure; personnel assignments; contact information; procedures; guidelines for implementation, for not only operations functions but all support functions such as safety, finance, human resources, communications, etc.,” Grillo said. “You have to allow response at the lowest level, the individual state command centers, but it has to be coordinated across many geographic locations or with many different functional groups at a unified command center.”

After additional discussion regarding Entergy’s annual drills, Grillo left those attending with one question as food for thought: “Are you storm ready?”

Entergy Corporation, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year, is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $10 billion and approximately 15,000 employees.

 

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