By Jesse George, AAE New Orleans Policy Director
Under the standards as adopted by the Council, the initial SAIFI standard for ENO is 1.53, meaning the average customer should not experience more than approximately 1.5 outages annually (yes, you’re right, there’s no such as “half an outage”, but these are averages; basically, it means fewer than two outages per year). The SAIDI standard is 178.2, meaning that the average customer should not experience outages of longer than 178.2 minutes each year, or just under three hours.
The standards include penalties for noncompliance: up to $2.97M annually for failure to meet the SAIFI standard, and up to an additional $500K annually for failure to meet the SAIDI standard.
Just as importantly, the standards provide a path toward improving reliability over time, requiring ENO to submit annual reports not only detailing its compliance, but also identifying the worst-performing portions of its distribution infrastructure and creating a plan to improve performance. ENO’s failure to make those improvements can result in an additional $500K penalty annually.
While the adoption of these standards is a positive development, and worthy of being celebrated, they are only a minimum standard, and should be viewed only as a first step. These standards must be refined and made more stringent over time. The Council must enforce them rigorously, and hold ENO accountable for failure to improve. When the Council’s paid advisors first presented these standards to the Council for consideration, they noted that ENO would have been in compliance for all but one of the past five years. The city has already experienced multiple fair-weather outages just since the beginning of 2023. New Orleanians deserve better than the bare minimum.