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Winter storm power outages continue; customers asked to conserve energy

Leigh Guidry
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

About 20,000 Cleco customers across Louisiana — including more than 4,700 in Evangeline Parish and 640 in St. Landry Parish — were without power Wednesday due to freezing rain and ice that began in the early afternoon.

"Several of the parishes we serve are currently experiencing freezing rain and ice from a second winter storm, and with temperatures expected to remain near or below freezing for most of the day, more power outages are likely," said James Lass, director of distribution operations and emergency management.  "As conditions deteriorate, we are asking customers to avoid unnecessary travel, operate generators outside in well-ventilated areas and stay away from downed power lines."

In addition to Cleco personnel, the company nearly 400 contractors are assisting with power restoration efforts, according to the company.

"Our crews will work throughout the day to restore as long as it’s safe," said Lass. "The safety of our employees, contractors and customers is priority in everything we do."

Outages have been caused by trees that have become heavy and brittle due to the accumulation of ice and snow and have broken and fallen onto the power system. Power lines and other equipment also can become damaged due to the weight of ice and snow.

Residents are reminded to only operate portable generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas and plug appliances directly into generators with grounded extension cords. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet, and assume all downed power lines are live and to be avoided.

Where to buy generators in case of a power outage this winter

Companies again push for energy conservation

SLEMCO again is urging customers to conserve as much power as possible between 5 and 10 Wednesday night, based on a directive from grid manager Midcontinent Independent System Operator. MISO is responsible for directing generated electric power to providers across 15 U.S. states and parts of Canada. 

Lafayette Utilities System also sent out a notice asking customers to continue conserving electric power Wednesday.

More:Winter storm to keep many Acadiana kids out of school for another day

Some SLEMCO customers in Acadiana were without electricity Wednesday afternoon, primarily in Acadia Parish (740) and St. Landry Parish (240). There was a small number of customers without power in Evangeline as well, according to the company's outage map.

Customers can conserve electricity and water over the next 24 hours by setting heaters to 68 degrees or lower; turning off electric water heaters; turning off any faucets that may be left on or left running overnight; and reducing washing machine and dishwasher usage. 

Entergy Louisiana was reporting few outages affecting customers in the eight-parish Acadiana region as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to its outage map.

Contact children's issues reporter Leigh Guidry at lguidry@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @LeighGGuidry.