Public Service Commission investigates stricter rules for power poles after Ida

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 2:48 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Hurricane season is just a fact of life in the Bayou State but Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Dr. Craig Greene believes the last two years show that the state needs to be better prepared to handle large storms.

“So, the last two hurricanes have been devastating, that’s for sure,” said Greene. “What we want them to look at is the present grid and how do we...if things would have been different, would they have not failed?”

Greene and his team are looking to put a little more pressure on power companies. He questions if the companies are taking care of the poles they own when they’re damaged in a storm.

“You know, what we found so far is that in cases in very visible defects, it boils down to a lack of communication between utilities or a lack of collaboration between the pole, the utility that owns the pole, and different standards of maintenance amongst utilities,” explained Greene.

Holding companies accountable isn’t just about making repairs. The commissioner said Hurrican Ida highlighted the need to make the transmission grid more robust. He’s asking engineers to study the current system to see how the state can make improvements.

“We can’t go from what we have now to the best in a week or two. So, that might look like underground in certain places, it might look like different types of poles, but then, we look at cost and how long they last and how do they fail,” added Greene.

If the power grid does need modifications, it could cost consumers a little more money. The Public Service Commission and electric companies will be looking into how it will affect folks and their power bills if there are changes.

Commissioner Greene said once the guidelines for power companies are finalized, they will implement them all across Louisiana but the state probably won’t see all of these modifications until late 2022.

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