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Ida power outages in southeast Louisiana due to ‘gross negligence’ by utility, lawsuit claims

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Orleans Parish against Entergy in the wake of Hurricane Ida and the extensive power outages that followed and persist.

The lawsuit claims the electric utility failed to maintain its infrastructure and facilities, plunging nearly a million people into the dark as Ida ravaged southeast Louisiana, WVUE-TV reported.

A major transmission tower collapsed into the Mississippi River during the peak of the storm on Aug. 29, blacking out Orleans Parish. Damages to power poles and lines throughout the river and bayou parishes have left some without power still, 22 days after landfall.

“The Entergy corporation knew of the deficiencies in their infrastructure yet failed to act upon them,” said Attorney Jack Harang. “This is gross negligence.”

The lawsuit cites maintenance outlined in both a 2007 “Hardening Study” and a 2016 “Resilience Plan.” Attorneys say Entergy deferred on the planned maintenance, instead opting for a “bubble gum and super glue” approach, causing “avoidable blackouts.”

“Entergy has been keenly aware of the shortfalls in their infrastructure for over a decade,” said Stuart Smith. “They knew their facilities were not sufficient to withstand severe weather, yet instead of upgrading their grid – like their study recommended and their plan outlined – they pocketed that money and sent all-time-high profits to their shareholders instead of protecting the health, welfare, safety, and lives of Louisiana residents.”

More: Many still without power fear Nicholas could hold up restoration efforts

Smith says Entergy has been repeatedly fined over the past decade for deferred maintenance. He says 80% of outages in Louisiana during the past five years have been due to infrastructure issues.

The attorneys also cited the failure of Entergy New Orleans to turn on its New Orleans Power Station, built to serve a small number of customers in case of a grid failure. The station was not turned on until three days after landfall.

Attorneys are seeking to require Entergy to bury power lines underground and “create sufficient redundancies to guarantee this never happens again.”

A spokesperson for Entergy said they do not comment on pending litigations.

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