by Max Brantley
May tomorrow bring universal electrical service, safe streets, garbage trucks to haul the mountains of accumulated wrapping paper, a federal budget that doesn't favor a handful of billionaires and peace in our time. Meanwhile:
* ENTERGY DOES SOME SPLAININ: As the unlit and unheated get testy, Entergy continues to meet with the press to explain the breadth of the problem and the resources now being thrown at restoring power. Talk Business has a report on latest Entergy presser. A good stream of Tweets on the event from Channel 7's Angela Rachels also. A few thoughts:
1) This is a tough job that nobody could have fully expected. But it's poor form for Entergy to blame an imprecise weather forecast (NE Ark. was expected to be worse than LR) for not having people in the right place. Also disingenuous. They weren't going to bring people from Louisiana into Little Rock on the chance something might happen here. And expecting utter precision in a weather forecast is asking a lot.
2) Don't cry for Entergy's expenses. Some of the cost of repairs is already built into the rate base, with a profit margin. If the reserve fund is spent, they'll be before the PSC for permission to recoup their costs. That's the beauty of being a regulated monopoly utility. Your costs will be covered by ratepayers, no matter what.
3) It's hard and dangerous work out there and we all appreciate those who labor in the cold to get service restored. But it is also part of the expectations and cost of doing business. It is not charity or something Entergy provides out of the goodness of their corporate "heart." We pay for it and it's reasonable to expect efficient response and reliable information when mishaps occur.
4 Questions are arising from grumpy customers about the wisdom of burying more power lines. About the sufficiency of right of way maintenance. About the sufficiency of regular repair crew staffing, versus counting on imports from other states with the lag time on assembling and transportation. No hurry on these discussions, but they are worth remembering. For now, let there be light.
5) On a personal note: Julie Munsell, any reason why after repeat requests the Times still can't seem to get on the list for notices of Entergy news conferences and news releases?
* FOX FUNNY BUSINESS: Huffington Post compiles a video of nine of Fox News' wildest utterances of 2012. Only nine?
* OLD SCHOOL CRIME NEWS: A bust up Huntsville way of a guy operating a moonshine still.