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Public Service Commission to meet about rolling blackouts

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BATON ROUGE - By Wednesday, we'll know more about what led up to the sudden blackouts brought on by last week's ice storm.

Entergy shut off power to thousands of customers in the last-minute move to save the electrical grid, but it didn't come without controversy. Wednesday, it'll be the topic of discussion among the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

A week ago, power crews were busy working to restore power to neighborhoods across Baton Rouge and south Louisiana. It's because so many homes came back online at once with the heat blasting that Entergy says it was forced to turn off the power on a cold night.

While the blackouts are done and most people now have their power back, the PSC is tasked with holding the utility company accountable.

"It's going to be a big meeting, because we really have to do better than we did this last time," Chairman Dr. Craig Greene said.

In New Orleans, Entergy is overseen by the city council. There Tuesday morning, the company said it cut more than three times more power than was required.

"I have questions about were the rolling blackouts appropriate from what the regional transmission authority recommended, or did it go over and above that. And if so, why?" Greene said.

Last week, Entergy Vice President John Hawkins says there wasn't much time for a warning.

"It happens fast, you have thirty minutes to get that load shed, so it's a very quick turnaround. It's not something we knew about it earlier in the day. You get that phone call, you have 30 minutes to execute," Hawkins said.

Customers were outraged they didn't get any time to prepare during a deep freeze. Some people lost power for hours while others called Entergy to report an outage only to be told by Entergy that they didn't have one.

"First of all, thank you for powering our lives, but also I think you could do this better. And so why were there so many people out for so long, and why couldn't they get in touch with someone to reinforce or help them, know how long they're going to be out," Greene said.

After the rolling blackouts, the power company promised it would do better. The PSC is asking people to submit their complaints online so they can be addressed. Tuesday, the PSC meeting will be held over Zoom or people can call in by phone.

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