Flooding and other problems caused by Hurricane Harvey knocked out five substations that belong to investor-owned Entergy, and a Louisiana electric cooperative has stepped in to help restore electricity.
Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative has loaned Entergy a self-contained mobile substation to help get power to thousands of the company’s customers connected to a substation in Vidor, Texas.
“The company called and asked. Since there was a need and we had it available, we approved the request,” said Charles Hill, general manager and CEO of the Franklinton-based co-op.
The trailer-mounted unit is 73 feet long and can be pulled into place in an existing substation. It’s typically used for maintenance-related outages. The co-op acquired it after rebuilding its system following damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“The 69-kilovolt high-side can be connected to transmission lines, and the 13.2-kv low-side can be tied into a distribution system,” said Hill. “It’s a fully functioning substation. All of the pieces and parts are there.”
Watch: WTSE Mobile Substation
The co-op mobile substation was delivered Sept. 4 and connections were secured within hours. Testing of the system was completed the following day. The unit is one of five now helping Entergy recover from outages related to Hurricane Harvey.
“The trip to Vidor from Franklinton normally takes about five hours, but it took nearly seven hours to get there because of flooded roads and heavy traffic,” said Billy Gibson, director of communications for the Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives.
Gibson accompanied the Washington-St. Tammany crew, and saw flooding comparable to the damage that occurred in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area after torrential rains and river flooding in August 2016.
“There was a lot of water moving toward the coast,” said Gibson. “It was also obvious that lots of people were still without electricity a full week after the storm.”
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers provided an escort to the substation site. An Entergy crew positioned the unit and began connecting it to the company’s transmission lines and distribution system.
Although the equipment could be disconnected and returned within eight to 10 hours, plans call for it to remain with Entergy for several weeks unless the co-op needs it, Hill said.
Derrill Holly is a staff writer at NRECA.