Some customers who lost power in Hurricane Ida could have lights on in the next few days, Entergy's Rod West says
- "We're going to have 16,000 to 20,000 people working to restore power" after Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast, Entergy's Rod West told CNBC on Tuesday.
- He estimated that power will be restored in the coming days for some of the more than 1 million Louisiana customers in the dark.
- "We're on the clock with our customers. It's not something we take lightly," West said.
Some of the more than 1 million customers in Louisiana plunged into darkness by Hurricane Ida should see their power restored within the next few days, Rod West, Entergy group president for utility operations, told CNBC on Tuesday.
"We are making progress on the damage assessment front. We do expect to be in a position to bring transmission facilities into service within the next day or so. That will give us an opportunity to begin bringing some of the lights on in New Orleans in the coming days," West said on "Squawk on the Street."
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"We're going to have 16,000 to 20,000 people working to restore power. Because many of them live in the areas we're trying to energize, they know we're on the clock with our customers," he said. "It's not something we take lightly."
Ida, which came ashore 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, made landfall Sunday south of New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane and tracked north. The entire city lost power after all eight transmission lines that serve New Orleans were knocked out — even one that withstood Katrina.
Ahead of the storm, Entergy anticipated catastrophic damage to its electrical grid, the main provider of power in Louisiana, estimating it could take three weeks to completely restore.
"Some of the harder-hit areas of our service territory, it may take that long," West said Tuesday. "Some of the most intense areas of the storm passed through the center of the spider web of the grid that served New Orleans."
The biggest hurdle to restoring power is safety, West added.
Shares of Entergy — which delivers electricity to a total of 3 million customers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas — bounced slightly higher Tuesday, one day after losing 2%.
Power outages and widespread flooding from Ida also slowed efforts by energy companies Tuesday to assess damages at oil production facilities, ports and refineries, many of which were shuttered ahead of the storm. Gulf of Mexico offshore wells account for 17% of U.S. crude production. More than 45% of total U.S. refining capacity is located along the Gulf Coast.
U.S. oil prices fell about 0.5% in late morning Tuesday trading. They rose nearly 0.7% on Monday after surging 10.6% last week in their strongest week in more than a year.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Ida is the latest example of why his state and the entire nation need a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. "New Orleans is now a case in point" for the need to harden America's infrastructure and improve resiliency, he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.