This afternoon, President Biden called a conference call with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and the CEOs of two of the Gulf Coast’s largest utilities, Leo Denault of Entergy and Tom Fanning of Southern Company, as well as Tom Kuhn, CEO of Edison Electric. Institute, an association that represents all electricity companies owned by American investors. They discussed the destructive power of Hurricane Ida and its impacts on the power distribution infrastructure which is a lifeline for communities in the affected region. They estimated that although the crews are running bravely to restore power, efforts to restore power will take some time. During the meeting, President Biden pledged the full weight of the federal government to provide the support and resources needed to help accelerate power restoration efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi, noting that in Louisiana, near one million customers remain without power, including the city of New Orleans. . Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Director of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond joined President and Secretary Granholm on the call.
The White House, senior officials in the Biden administration, and FEMA proactively engaged with energy leaders in preparation for the storm and in the days following Ida’s arrival as than a Category 4 hurricane. To aid in power restoration efforts, the federal government shares aerial and satellite imagery to support damage assessments, assist in debris removal and traffic control so that restoration workers and equipment can gain access to fallen wires and poles, restore vital communications infrastructure, and speed up permitting. for the rerouting of the transmission cable across the Mississippi River and for the raising of transmission towers. They spoke about the vital role of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the President thanked the IBEW for the vital work done by its members, especially in emergencies such as Ida where they run into the storm while others are urged to evacuate. More than 25,000 linemen from 32 states and the District of Columbia are on the ground to support damage assessment and restoration efforts across the region, including New Orleans, where crews work 24 hours a day. on 24 to repair transmission towers and lines that supply the city. The president immediately approved a major disaster declaration for Louisiana and pre-disaster emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi.
The CEOs also stressed the need for a forward-looking infrastructure and investment policy to strengthen the network and enable its resilience in the face of the full spectrum of 21st threats of the century, including extreme weather events. The President noted the impact of climate change on communities across the country, including storms and wildfires, and stressed the importance of securing broad support for ambitious infrastructure investment targets. and the current budgetary efforts of his administration.