Mississippi Power restoration update – Day 8

GULFPORT, MS – Mississippi Power officials are now estimating that all customers who can receive power will have service restored by the end of the day Sunday, just 13 days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the company’s service area. Service has been restored to 54 percent of the company’s customers so far.

Outage numbers

“More than 91,000 of our customers now have power,” said Anthony Topazi, President and CEO. “Because of the success of the restoration to date and the number of crews we have here, we have re-evaluated our time frames and have committed to reaching this accelerated goal. We know how vital it is to restore service to our customers as soon as possible in order to help begin rebuilding the Coast and south Mississippi.”

Restoration goals for restoring service to customers who can receive power include:
September 6: Ocean Springs
September 7: Leakesville, Lucedale, Meridian, Richton
September 8: Bay St. Louis, Long Beach, Wiggins/Saucier
September 9: Pascagoula/Moss Point, Pass Christian, DeLisle
September 10: Hattiesburg, Laurel
September 11: Biloxi, Gulfport, Picayune, Poplarville

“This restoration effort has been monumental and I am so proud of the way our employees have responded,” says Topazi. “If we can accomplish this by September 11, perhaps we can help associate that date with a more positive memory for the people of south Mississippi.

Mississippi Power lost electric service to all of its 195,000 customers after Katrina. The company lost all of its systems, including telecommunications, and suffered extensive facilities damage, including the use of all generating units at Plant Watson in Gulfport.

“Because of our pre-storm planning, we were able to start work right after the storm last week with support from 2,500 line and tree crew personnel,” said Topazi. “That support has grown steadily over the past week and will peak Tuesday with more than 9,200 line crew and support personnel coming from across the nation to help us.

“Meeting these goals will take everything we’ve got,” said Topazi. “But we intend to do it because we know how important it is, especially as it relates to the safety and well-being of our customers and the public.”

Topazi noted that with damage so widespread and severe, there will be a number of individual customer problems that can be corrected as soon as they’re identified. If customers have not received service according to the schedule noted above, they can report outages by calling 1-800-ITS-DARK (800-487-3275).

Customer restoration totals by division as of 6 a.m. 9/6/05:

  • Coast 28,349 39%
  • Pine Belt 30,073 51%
  • Meridian 33,238 89%

    As always, safety is the first priority in any storm restoration effort. Here are some important storm-related tips for customers to consider:

  • Mississippi Power gives priority to hospitals, water and sewer treatment facilities, police, fire and other critical customers for the overall safety and well-being of the community at large. Individuals with critical medical needs should consider making contingency plans in case power outages last for an extended period of time.

  • SAFETY FIRST! Stay away from downed lines. Warn others to do the same. Beware of lines that are touching a vehicle. Stay away from the vehicle and the line. Do not drive over lines lying on the road, and do not drive under low hanging lines. Keep children and pets away from downed lines. Always assume a downed power line is live. Do not attempt to remove tree limbs or anything else caught in power lines. Call Mississippi Power at 800-ITS-DARK (800-487-3275) or a local law enforcement agency if downed lines are spotted.

  • Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to Mississippi Power employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances – such as freezers and refrigerators – directly to the generator.

  • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, operate generators outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area that is away from air intakes to the home and protected from direct exposure to rain or snow. A good location is an open shed, under a canopy or a carport. Never use a portable generator indoors or in attached garages.

  • Most small gasoline powered generators purchased at home improvement stores are designed for appliances to be plugged directly into them rather than plugging the generator into the home`s wiring. Be sure to use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge that is adequate for the appliance load. If you need to connect a generator directly to your home wiring, it should be done by a qualified electrical contractor, and a switch to disconnect your home wiring from the utility system should be installed and used before connecting the generator.

  • Having a generator connected directly to household wiring without this switch can result in power from your generator feeding back into utility wires, creating a deadly threat to you, your neighbors and to repair crews.

  • 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. For more information and daily updates on the company’s progress toward restoring service, go to www.mississippipower.com.

    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. Visit the Southern Company Web site at www.southerncompany.com.