This afternoon, President Biden had a call with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and the CEOs of two of the largest utilities on the Gulf Coast, Leo Denault of Entergy and Tom Fanning of Southern Company, and Tom Kuhn, CEO of Edison Electric Institute, an association that representing all US electrical companies owned by investors. They discussed the devastating power of Hurricane Ida and its effects on the energy supply infrastructure, which is a lifeline for communities in the affected region. They concluded that while the crews are fighting bravely to restore power, the power restoration efforts will take time. During the meeting, President Biden pledged the full weight of the federal government to provide support and resources wherever needed to accelerate power restoration efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi, noting that Louisiana has nearly a million customers without power stay, including the city of New Orleans. In addition to President and Secretary of State Granholm, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Public Relations Director Cedric Richmond were present.
The White House, senior officials in the Biden administration and FEMA have proactively partnered with energy leaders in preparation for the storm and in the days since Ida hit land as a Category 4 hurricane. To aid in power restoration efforts, the federal government is sharing aerial and satellite imagery to aid damage assessments, help with debris removal, and traffic control so that restoration workers and equipment can gain access to crashed wires and masts that restore and restore critical communications infrastructure May expedite approval for re-laying transmission cables across the Mississippi and erecting transmission towers. They discussed the vital role of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the President thanked the IBEW for the important work its members do, particularly in emergencies like Ida where they run towards the storm while others are pushed to evacuate . More than 25,000 linemen from 32 states and the District of Columbia are on hand to support damage assessment and recovery efforts across the region, including New Orleans, where crews work around the clock to repair the transmission towers and lines that the Power supply to the city. The president immediately approved a major disaster statement for Louisiana and pre-disaster statements for both Louisiana and Mississippi.
The CEOs also stressed the need for forward-looking infrastructure policies and investments to harden the network and make it resilient to the full spectrum of 21NS Century threats, including extreme weather events. The president highlighted the impacts of climate change on communities across the country, including storms and forest fires, and stressed the importance of securing broad support for his government’s current ambitious infrastructure investment goals and budgetary efforts.