Kudos to Entergy! Talk about the “comeback kid!” Not only is Entergy rebuilding its distribution system following the havoc wreaked by Mother Nature’s Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Entergy is AHEAD of schedule, UNDER budget, BOOSTING service reliability and ALL this while NOT increasing customer rates. Add to this, McGraw-Hill’s Platts Global Energy Awards recently recognized Entergy New Orleans Inc.’s gas rebuild project as the Global Infrastructure Project of the Year!
Obviously, things happen in the Big Easy that seem to only be pipedreams in other corners of the country. So, what’s the secret? Do tell!
Entergy New Orleans, Inc. reached a three-year milestone this month by rebuilding 135 miles of gas lines throughout the city – ahead of schedule and under budget. In addition, the world’s largest gas rebuild effort that was launched in 2007 following Hurricane Katrina has improved gas service reliability to Entergy New Orleans’ customers by reducing water-related outages by 50 percent since 2006. The project includes replacing cast iron and steel pipes with high-density polyethylene gas pipes while also converting the low-pressure gas system to a high-pressure system. The new gas pipe resists saltwater corrosion and is quicker to repair compared to the cast iron or steel traditionally used for gas systems, while the high-pressure system is virtually impervious to flooding. Through the use of combination of state-of-the-art drilling technology and modern distribution piping new technology, the gas rebuild project focuses on the customer by increasing service reliability and practically eliminating any traffic or business and home access disruptions during the restoration process.
When Entergy New Orleans made its original project filing with the New Orleans City Council in 2007, the company proposed three-year period intervals for reviews to best align to a condition-based strategy of rebuilding the system. Recognizing the corrosive effects of the flooding would impact various areas of the gas system differently over time and repopulating the city may require the company to target new areas, the gas rebuild schedule was based on criteria such as reliability issues, pipe sample results, coordination with city projects and population. Additionally, Entergy New Orleans fought for alternative sources of funds for costs associated with Hurricane Katrina damage in order to mitigate costs to the customer, such as Community Development Block Grant funds and insurance proceeds. As a result there has not been an impact on customer rates during the first three years of the rebuild project and Entergy New Orleans does not anticipate any impact on rates over the next three years as well.
Knowing first-hand the challenges this project has entailed, Perry Dufrene, gas rebuild project manager at Entergy New Orleans accepted the award on the company’s behalf. According to Dufrene, “We saw in this catastrophe an opportunity to do more than restore the system – it was an opportunity to bring benefits to our customers with new piping materials and also to implement innovative construction techniques that make the rebuild easy for the people of New Orleans…when all is said and done, the New Orleans gas system will be more modern, more protected from future damage and will also be easier and less expensive to maintain and repair.”
Bring it home, Perry! And congratulations to all the Entergy New Orleans team for thinking outside the box!