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CenterPoint Energy completes repairs to major infrastructure; moves to second stage of restoration

Houston – Sept. 19, 2008 – CenterPoint Energy announced today that after six full days since Hurricane Ike landed and knocked out power to 2.15 million customers, they have restored power to over 941,000 customers. The company has moved into the next stage of its Emergency Operating Plan restoration process.

“As of yesterday, we restored power to the foundation of our electric infrastructure, the transmission lines and substations, and completed our cut and clear process on the major power lines serving neighborhoods and businesses.  We also completed our field assessment of damages to our circuits and restored power to most of our priority customers,” said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of Electric Operations. “The tree damage is more significant than the initial foot patrol and aerial surveys initially indicated.  The next step is to combine the efforts of the 4,000 tree trimmers and 4,000 linemen together to sweep entire neighborhoods.”

Sweep armies made up of tree trimmers and linemen are targeting areas making repairs that will restore power to the greatest number of customers. When trees are removed from the lines, the company can get power on for most remaining customers on circuits as well as customers behind line fuses.

During the normal restoration process, circuits (major neighborhood power lines) - the backbone of the company’s system that restores power to 1,000 customers or more - are restored first using the cut and clear process, which identifies problems that cause power outages on a circuit or power line and reroutes power around the problem areas.  Problems include a downed tree, power line or broken pole. Determining where the power is out indicates where additional repairs need to be made. Energizing line fuses, which typically restores service to 100 or more customers, is the next step.

“Our goal is to continue to make repairs to restore power to the greatest number of customers,” said Mercado. “We’re also committed to providing restoration timeline updates by zip code, especially for customers served by damaged transformers or individual service drops that take the longest to restore.”

Steps Customers Can Take to Help

While crews continue to work around the clock to restore power, there are steps customers can take to help get their home ready to receive electric service.

  • Protect your sensitive equipment and air conditioning units
    Before power is restored, unplug all sensitive equipment, such as computers and plasma screen televisions, and turn off your air conditioner. When power is restored to a large number of customers at once, large appliances can cause a short-term power surge, which may damage electrical appliances. Leave one light on. Once electric service is restored, plug in small appliances, then large appliances and finally turn on your air conditioning.
  •  Inspect your electric meter
    CenterPoint Energy will make repairs to the electric delivery system up to the point where it connects to a home or business. However, the customer is responsible for repairs if there is damage to the meter enclosure or weatherhead – the point where the line enters the home through a pipe. If the meter enclosure or weatherhead is damaged, our crews will not be able to re-establish service. If in doubt, homeowners should contact a licensed electrician to inspect and make any necessary repairs.
  • Stay Safe
    Stay away from downed or low-hanging power lines and treat them as if they’re energized. Do not run generators in homes or in garages. Place portable generators in a well-ventilated area. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly.
  • Call before you dig
    Digging into buried utility lines can cause serious injury or death. Before digging or reinstalling fences during clean-up, customers need to request that underground utility lines are marked. For your safety, you are required by law to call 811. This service will connect you with the state one call center, which alerts participating utility companies such as electric, gas, cable and phone about the planned digging so they can mark the appropriate location of their underground lines if necessary. Please be prepared for a longer than usual wait time during the next few weeks and do not dig until the lines have been marked.