An animal knocked out power for about 10,000 Entergy customers in New Orleans on Wednesday, the latest incident where birds or critters have caused outages after flying or climbing into the utility’s electrical equipment.
The problem appears to be caused by a bird at the Derbigny substation, according to New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno. She didn’t say what kind of bird.
It is at least the second time in less than a year that an animal has damaged the substation and knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses. The last time it happened, Entergy proposed a system of lasers aimed at keeping birds away from its power equipment, but it’s not clear what became of those plans.
Power was mostly restored by noon, according to Entergy spokesperson Lee Sabatini. At the peak of the outage around 9 am, customers were without power across a large swath of the city, including parts of downtown, the Central Business District, Treme, Mid-City and Central City.
The outage included the area around the Caesars Superdome.
Power was restored in time at the Smoothie King Center for the Pelicans’ home game.
When will power be restored?
There were conflicting reports about the status of the outage Thursday morning.
Entergy’s online map said part of the CBD was still without power more than 24 hours after the outage started, but Sabatini said power was restored to all customers as 8:40 am The outage map, he said, is having issues.
However, at least one office tower on Poydras was without power as of 10 am, according to an employee in the building.
“It’s just frustrating when you are trying to conduct business and you have reliability issues,” said Cres Gardner, vice president for Beau Box New Orleans.
He works at 909 Poydras and his company represents the landlords for three towers. Two of them had power as of 10 am Thursday. His did not.
Check the latest outage status on Entergy’s website.
Lasers to stop birds
An executive from Entergy New Orleans told the City Council in August 2021 that the company was planning to add lasers that would stop birds from landing on power equipment, getting themselves electrocuted and interfering with the city’s electricity flow.
The “Laser Bird Deterrent Systems” use mounted lasers to shine colored lights on equipment and spook birds, according to the presentation. The lasers are designed to deter birds without irritating the human eye, Michelle Bourg of Entergy said at the time.
They were being installed at Entergy substations in Hammond and Arkansas at the time and a third trial location was planned in New Orleans. Entergy hadn’t determined where the system would be installed in the city.
Hurricane Ida hit about two weeks later, causing catastrophic damage to the power grid in New Orleans and southeast Louisiana.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the lasers were ever installed in New Orleans. However, the temporary plan in 2021 was to install a fake animal to scare them off.
It’s not clear if the fake animal was ever installed.
Staff writer Ben Myers contributed to this story.
Carlie Kollath Wells is a breaking news reporter at NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.