Can a single utility dispatch a regional grid system without a financial market?
Bruce W. Radford is editor-in-chief for Public Utilities Fortnightly.
As of Monday evening, Sept. 5, 2005, a week after Hurricane Katrina, Entergy was reporting 54 transmission lines and 46 substations still out of service. That meant nearly 459,000 customer outages—some 417,000 in Louisiana, plus 41,000 in Mississippi. By the next day, Entergy had told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that earnings for the current and next year likely would suffer. Also, regulatory mechanisms might be modified to recover the cost of restoration.
Against this backdrop, it might seem premature or even gratuitous to review Entergy’s pending plan to create an “Independent Coordinator of Transmission” (ICT) to manage certain grid operations. Yet consider what happened four years ago after Hurricane Lili had inflicted damage (much less, of course) to the Entergy grid.
According to the Lafayette Utilities System (LUS), a small municipal electric system lying in the heart of Cajun country, Entergy effectively de-rated its 138-kV Richard Colonial Academy transmission line by 15 MVA when it chose to install a readily available but lower-rated capacity conductor in 2002 after the storm.