Mississippi Power Customer Base Still Remains
by Keith Burton - GCN 11/22/06
Any drive down U.S. 90 along the beach or around the bays in Harrison or Hancock counties still tell a story of destruction that Hurricane Katrina wrought August 29, 2005. With nearly 15 months since, it is evident that the recovery from the hurricane will take time, but how much time?
One of the clearest ways to determine the progress of rebuilding since Katrina is through who is receiving electrical service. And the news here indicates that the recovery is nearly stalled.
The evidence is clearly seen from the actual number of customers receiving electricity from Mississippi Power, which supplies services to the most populated cities along the Coast. Mississippi Power's customer base is still below pre-Katrina levels.
Along the Coast, three electrical utilities service customers in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. Two are rural cooperatives, Singing river Electric, which serves Jackson County, and Coast Electric, which serves the rural areas in Harrison and Hancock counties, and a portion of the annexed areas of Biloxi and Gulfport. Representatives of the two co-ops tell GCN that their companies are above Katrina levels in customers, which is indicative that many residents have moved inland to homes within the co-op's districts.
But for Mississippi Power, which services Biloxi, Gulfport in Harrison County, as well as portions of Jackson and Hancock Counties south of U.S. 90, the co-op's gains have been its loss, so far.
As of November 9, Mississippi Power had a total of 179,629 customers. Prior to Katrina, Mississippi Power was servicing 194,725 customers.
But this tells only part of the story. A running total of Mississippi Power customers since the hurricane shows only incremental customer increases since July. The number of Mississippi Power customers now with power have only increased by about 1,400.
Since just after power was restored following Katrina, Mississippi Power has seen the total number of customers that could not receive power drop from 20,402 in September 12, 2005 to 14,474 as of November 9, 2006. This is 14,474 former customers, representing both business and residential, that have yet to recover.
What this also indicates is that rebuilding is nearly stalled on the Coast in the hardest hit areas as reflected by the total customers currently receiving electricity by Mississippi Power.
The most alarming figures come in for cities such as Pass Christian, which show that more than half of all of Mississippi Power's customers in that city have yet to return. But the numbers reflected below also tell a grim story about the recovery in several other communities served by Mississippi Power.
The following is a breakdown of the number of customers currently
served by Mississippi in their Coast Region:
Customer counts based on internal tracking systems for outage reports and final billing.
Customer Counts by Community