Power situation depends on Cleco

By ZACHARY FITZGERALD zfitzgerald@daily-review.com

Tri-City officials say maintaining power during the winter storm primarily depends on keeping the tie to Cleco through the power grid.
Morgan City Mayor Frank “Boo” Grizzaffi said City Utilities Director Bill Cefalu does not anticipate problems with the city’s power system.
“Unit 4 was running last week at the steam plant,” Grizzaffi said. “Unit 3 is still out. As long as Cleco’s tie-in works, then we should be in pretty good shape,” Grizzaffi said.
Cefalu said the city’s transformer currently in use is “more than enough” to run the city this time of year.
Grizzaffi also does not anticipate any issues with the city’s natural gas system. The city had issues during the first freezing snap of the year, but city officials have increased the gas pressure and do not anticipate any natural gas transmission problems this time around, Grizzaffi said.
If any weather-related issues do arise, city utilities workers are on standby and ready “to step up if needed,” Grizzaffi said. “The only issue we would have … it takes Unit 3 and 4 at the steam plant to operate the city. And Unit 3 has been down and will be down for a few more months. So we only have Unit 4. So as long as the Cleco tie-in is good, then we’re good,” Grizzaffi said.
The city would only need the Unit 4 generator if the city’s tie to the grid through Cleco needs more transmission support, Cefalu said. The city’s power load right now is only about 20 megawatts, and Unit 4 alone can carry 36 megawatts, Cefalu said.
Grizzaffi said the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium could be used as a warm place for people to stay, if necessary.
Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff said for natural gas and water the town has people it can call upon in the utilities department should any issues come up. Berwick did not have any issues with gas or water last week, but the town “has everyone on standby to be able to deal with any problem that does arise,” Ratcliff said.
Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan said city officials are monitoring weather-related issues because during last week’s freeze the city experienced low gas pressure. That low pressure was caused by residents using lots of natural gas, Grogan said.
“We’re going to be vigilant about the water lines, and we’re asking the public to please wrap up their water lines … and to report any water they may see in any areas that is not in the normal areas,” Grogan said.
St. Mary Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Duval Arthur said he spoke with Cleco representatives Monday night, who said they have trucks ready to respond to outages caused by fallen trees or limbs.
Arthur said if many people in the parish lose power, parish officials are considering opening “a warming center” on each end of the parish where people could go to stay warm. Arthur advised people to listen to radio and check the office’s Facebook page and the sheriff’s office Facebook page on what places are opened or closed.
At Monday’s parish emergency preparedness meeting in Franklin, Roger Erickson of the National Weather Service encouraged public officials to prepare for possible downed power lines because of ice and 20 mph winds today.
Cleco and SLECA representatives also said they have crews on standby.
With an extended freeze potential existing this week, the likelihood of weather-caused power failures are higher this week than last week, Erickson said.
Cleco Spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper said Monday Cleco plans to wait to see the extent of damage caused by the winter storm before giving a timeline for when power will be restored if any outages occur.
SLECA representative Mark Caldwell said he does not know what to expect as far as power outages. “It depends on how bad the ice gets. We’re just crossing our fingers right now,” Caldwell said.

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