City seeks funds for electrical upgrade

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter

The Plaquemine Board of Selectmen agreed last week to apply for $5 million to $6 million in additional hurricane recovery funds to replace a key part of the city's electrical system.

Mayor Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta said the funds for a new electrical substation from a pool of $30 million in hurricane recovery money allocated to the Louisiana Municipal Association.

The city buys its power from the Louisiana Energy and Power Authority (LEPA), and receives it over Entergy transmission lines at the substation proposed for replacement.

Gulotta said currently the city is tied onto Entergy's 69,000-kilowatt line, where service was knocked out after Hurricane Gustav in 2008. He hopes the new substation could be tied to the company's more reliable 130,000-kilowatt line.

The city is continuing to negotiate with a private for a lower-price contract for the city's electrical supplies, and city officials went into executive session at last week's meeting to discuss the latest details. Entergy would have to approve the use of its transmission lines for the contract to go through.

Meanwhile, the city council also agreed to declare an emergency and spent $50,000 to install sensors to monitor electrical transformers, switchgears and the local power plant, which is used during emergencies or when LEPA needs additional electrical supplies.

Gulotta said City Light & Water has had a number of small power outages during afternoon showers this summer. The sensors will make it faster for crews find and repair the problems.