Utilities Assessing Power Damages in Wake of Hurricane Katrina

By Armando Duke

New Orleans - Entergy (NYSE: ETR) said that over 1.1 million electricity customers were without power across Louisiana and Mississippi Tuesday, caused by Hurricane Katrina, the worst storm in Entergy's history.

Company officials said crews could take several days to fully assess the damage, and it expects a long and difficult restoration process due to the scope and amount of damage to its electrical system.

As of 5 a.m. today, Entergy's electrical power outages from Hurricane Katrina peaked at nearly 1.1 million homes and businesses, with some 790,000 in Louisiana and more than 300,000 in Mississippi without power. Entergy crews were able to restore power to some customers Monday night in areas that did not suffer heavy damage from Katrina. The company is expecting that additional outages could occur due to wet soil and occasional strong wind gusts.

The outage total already has more than quadrupled the previous Entergy record of 270,000 set only last month during Tropical Storm Cindy. The record prior to that was 260,000 in Hurricane Georges in 1998.

Shares of Entergy fell all morning, hitting a low of $76.00 by 12pm EST before beginning a cautious recovery to trade at $76.55, down 83 cents by 1:56pm EST Tuesday