AEP Texas, CenterPoint, other utilities finally seeing daylight in Harvey restoration

Houston-based CenterPoint Energy has completed more than 842,000 restorations

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Major utilities and electric cooperatives were making clear headway in restoring power to storm-ravaged Texas at the end of this destructive, deadly week. And they still have months of work ahead of them.

AEP Texas has calculated that Hurricane Harvey knocked down 3,100 distribution poles and 300 transmission structures. Another 200 transmission structures were damaged, the utility reported.

As of Friday morning, AEP Texas crews had restored power to more than 150,000 of their 220,000 estimated customers who lost it in the storm. The damage assessment is ongoing.

“AEP Texas is using drones and helicopters to supply aerial photography in some areas,” the company said in a release. “Crews also are using cranes and other special equipment to support traditional restoration approaches.”

The worst hit area was in the Aransas Pass and Rockport communities, which still have 37,400 customers without power as of Friday morning. Corpus Christi and Victoria, Texas, still have 8,700 and 11,600, respectively.

Aransas Pass and Rockport may not have full restoration until September 8, according to AEP. Port Lavaca, Corpus Christi and Victoria could be restored by this weekend.

Houston-based CenterPoint Energy has completed more than 842,000 restorations in the past week, which is 99 percent of its customers. Flooding, however, has left 12,500 customers still impacted and inaccessible to CenterPoint crews, the company reported.

Entergy CEO Leo Denault told CNBC that the company’s Texas unit has restored power to more than 200,000 customers. Some 70,000 customers are still without power, he added, with 7,000 who can’t even be reconnected because of flooding.

“We can’t even get in to assess,” Denault told the television interviewers. “We have to make sure the home is still safe to take electricity.”

Denault noted the irony that his utility was dealing with the destruction from Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago this week, particularly in neighboring Louisiana which is also dealing with Harvey flooding now.

“There’s a sense of déjà vu,” he said. However, the swath of damage caused by Katrina was much more significant and the outages more than three times as many.

“It’s extremely tragic,” he added about the Harvey’s deadly assault, but financially and structurally will be manageable. “Flooding is the biggest issue. We’ve got substations still under water.”

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