Electric power returns to Morgan City
MORGAN CITY — With a few outages and two days of repairs behind us now, the city seems to have a tentative hold on electricity.
As of 10:30 a.m., Unit 3 came online and was slowly building a load in an effort to supply its sister generator, Unit 4, which held the city’s power overnight after Tuesday’s 6 p.m. fire and explosion at the Joseph J. Cefalu Sr. Municipal Steam Plant.
Mayor Tim Matte said there were scattered outages last night and today portions of the city had to be taken off the city’s electrical grid as the temperatures outside rose, causing the city to consume more power than Unit 4 could produce alone.
Before Unit 3 came online, the city only was capable of producing 32 MW of power. As of 6 a.m., 25 MW already was being consumed, the mayor said. At that time, a technician from the company who sold the city the exciter that failed on Unit 3 already was on site at the steam plant and working to repair it. Crews had the unit building steam so that it could go into immediate service when the repair was completed.
Units 3 and 4 are “late 1960s and early 1970s vintage,” Matte said.
The two units will be able to operate together to produce the city’s output, but it is an unusual situation because the city generally only has one unit supplementing the transformer taking in power from Cleco.
A new crane was brought in to assist in the installation of the replacement transformer because of the tight working conditions at the plant. Work will continue over the course of the day. Both repairs are necessary because of each component’s load capacity to maintain the city’s electricity.
The transformer replacing the burnt one was removed from service 30 years ago because “it was expected load would exceed its capacity.” The replacement model is 45 or 50 MW and the one that exploded was 100 MW, the mayor said. The city’s peak load in the summer is about 45 MW total.
Together, with Units 3 and 4, though, the capacity should not be exceeded, he said.
Meanwhile, police patrols remain intensified for the duration of the crisis.
Homeland Security/Office of Emergency Preparedness Director Duval Arthur said 20 additional deputies were requested and received from Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption, St. Martin and Iberia parishes.
“They got plenty of help. (Sheriff Mark Hebert) asked for additional channels for the radios. He got that.”
Wednesday night there were twice the officers patrolling with two people in each car, he added.
Additionally, all shelters are closed unless they are needed for further outages.
Morgan City health care facilities and nursing homes are reporting they have resumed operations in the wake of the city losing power Tuesday evening.
Administrator David Cassard of Maison Jardin assisted living home said his facility evacuated after the facility lost power with patients being transferred to Patterson or going home with family, but the home has since resumed full operations since power was restored.
He said about 75 percent of the residents have returned since power was restored to the city.
Cassard said he also was told by Arthur that because his facility was on the same line as the hospital, it would be treated with consideration.
“We will not be part of the blackouts,” he said. “When we were told, we started advising residents to come back.”
Cassard said residents were happy to return home and he thanked the Morgan City Police Department, the city fire marshal and Acadian Ambulance for assisting with a smooth evacuation.
Spokesperson Tam Jones of the Morgan City Health Care Center said that facility maintained all of its residents during the blackout due to generator power.
She said the facility briefly lost power about 9:30 a.m., causing the generator to kick on again, but power was quickly restored to the area.
As of 10:30 a.m., the back of the facility was without power because the generator was still running, but all residents were moved to the front of the facility being cooled by backup power.
She said the facility had no plans to evacuate if the city lost power again.
Sabrina Roy of Teche Regional Medical Center in Morgan City said the hospital did not evacuate residents Tuesday after power was restored at 4:30 p.m.
She said the facility was not on the list of areas that could be affected by blackouts and the hospital has resumed all services except elective surgeries, which will resume Friday.