September 15, 2008 / 4:44 PM / 11 years ago

Ike cuts power to more than 3 mln, most in Texas

LOS ANGELES, Sept 15 (Reuters) - More than 3 million homes and businesses in five states were without power on Monday morning as a result of Hurricane Ike, mostly in Texas where the storm hit on Saturday morning, according to reports by government and utility companies.

A big Southeast Texas power plant will be out for weeks after it was flooded with 4 feet of water and became a refuge for snakes and other animals, said plant owner Entergy (ETR.N).

The U.S. Department of Energy said 3.8 million were without power but its figures were gathered before utilities in Texas showed that power had been restored to another 300,000 customers.

“As the Ike system moved north, it caused additional outages in states throughout the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast,” said the DOE.

On Monday, crews worked to restore power to about 1.8 million homes and businesses in Texas, 785,000 in Ohio, 472,500 in Kentucky, 126,000 in Louisiana and 108,000 in Arkansas, company and DOE figures showed.

On Sunday, Texas officials warned that some homes and businesses were likely to be without power for a month or more in the hardest-hit coastal areas.

Hurricane Ike landed near Galveston on the Texas coast about 50 miles southeast of Houston.

Entergy said helicopters were flying over transmission lines to a damaged Texas power grid, and the biggest utility in Houston, CenterPoint Energy Inc (CNP.N), said it had 10,000 workers scrambling to restore service.

A CenterPoint spokeswoman said about 1.65 million customers remained without power on Monday morning after the utility had restored power to about 500,000 customers.

Entergy said about 525,000 customers remained without power on Monday morning — 385,500 of them in Texas, 75,500 in Arkansas, and some 62,300 in Louisiana. About 12,000 of those without power in Louisiana were off because of Hurricane Gustav which hit that state on Sept. 1.

Entergy said 99 percent of its customers in Texas had lost power at some point because of Ike, the highest in the history of Entergy Texas.

Entergy said its Sabine Power Station in Bridge City near the Louisiana border will be off-line for weeks as “flood waters have driven snakes and other wild animals into the plant.”

The 1,800-megawatt Bridge City plant runs on natural gas. Entergy said it has yet to assess damage at the plant.

Entergy said it has not yet made an estimate of the cost of repairs and lost service.

“This is a process that we have gone through with state regulators in the past and it has worked well for customers. Determining costs will be more complicated as more of Entergy’s utilities were affected.”

In Louisiana, half of the 37 transmission lines that had sustained outages were back on-line on Monday morning and that 15 of its 51 substations that had been out were back in service.

Entergy’s River Bend, Texas, nuclear power plant in Louisiana remained off-line. The 967-megawatt plant shut on Sept. 1 due to Hurricane Gustav. Entergy said new siding is needed to the turbine building, but did not offer a restart date.

Entergy’s Lewis Creek plant in Montgomery County north of Houston was expected to be back on-line on Monday, the company said. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis)

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