At the end of the first day of assessing Hurricane Katrinas devastation and destruction, it became clear that it will take weeks to rebuild the damage the storm inflicted to Mississippi Powers electric system.
After assessing three-fourths of the companys 8,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines, officials estimate approximately 70 percent will need to be rebuilt or repaired. Most of the damage reflects the path of Katrina, especially along the coast and in the Pine Belt area. Other areas in the companys service territory suffered somewhat lesser degrees of damage.
We estimate it may be as long as four weeks to restore service in the worst hit areas to all customers who can receive it, said President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Topazi. But as weve seen today, we expect to make immediate progress in some of the less damaged areas. From there well see steady progress system-wide.
More than 2,500 outside utility workers arrived and began providing assistance Tuesday. During the day, more than a dozen substations across the companys service area were energized. Nearly 5,000 customers in the Meridian area, including the hospitals and a wastewater treatment facility, had service restored the first day after the storm passed.
By Thursday, company employees will be assisted by nearly 5,000 outside line personnel, coming from as far away as New York, Maryland, Kentucky and Texas. As part of Southern Company, Mississippi Power is already getting direct assistance from its sister affiliates in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
We will have more specific projections in the next few days, and well make every effort to keep customers informed about our expectations for each city and town we serve, Topazi said. South Mississippi is our home. It is our intention to work hard every day until we completely restore electric service to the area.
Customers may contact the company through its toll-free customer outage number, 1-800-ITS-DARK (1-800-487-3275).
Mississippi Power offers these storm tips:
Stay away from all downed lines. Warn others to do the same and contact Mississippi Power or a local law enforcement agency.
Wait a reasonable time before calling Mississippi Power if your entire neighborhood is without power. Extra calls jam switchboards and slow repairs.
Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to electric company employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances such as freezers and refrigerators directly to the generator.
If there is damage to your meter box or the pole on top of your meter box, you must first have an electrician make repairs before Mississippi Power can restore your service.
If there is flooding in your home or business, Mississippi Power may be unable to restore electric service until the building is inspected by city or county code officials.
Please be patient. Crews restoring service will work as fast as safety allows. Before neighborhood lines can be restored, Mississippi Power crews must first repair substations and larger lines that bring power to neighborhoods.
Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, serves 195,000 customers in 23 Southeast Mississippi counties.
With more than 4 million customers and nearly 39,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier super-regional energy company in the Southeast and a leading U.S. producer of electricity. Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states, a growing competitive generation company and a competitive retail natural gas business, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Southern Company has been ranked the nations top energy utility in the American Customer Satisfaction Index six years in a row. Southern Company has more than 500,000 shareholders, making its common stock one of the most widely held in the United States.