Experts at Forum Discuss Costs, Ways to Better Prepare and Recover
Beaumont, Texas – Development and
changing weather patterns will mean more intense storms that will deliver
increasingly more economic harm to the Gulf Coast area, says widely-recognized
Texas economist, Dr. Ray Perryman.
Dr. Perryman was one of more than a
dozen experts and local leaders who made presentations or participated in panel
discussions during Thursday’s Southeast Texas Coastal Resilience Forum.
Sponsored by Lamar University and Entergy Texas, Inc., the forum brought leaders
together to present the results of several studies related to how major storms
like hurricanes Rita and Ike, can impact the Gulf Coast economically through
recovery costs and job losses. Presentations were also made and discussions held
on how to make Southeast Texas more resilient, or better able to withstand the
effects of the storms and recover from them afterward.
“A healthy Gulf Coast that can
survive and recover from the storms we are prone to is key to a developing
economy in Southeast Texas and the nation,” said Joe Domino, president and chief
executive officer of Entergy Texas, Inc. “The petrochemical industry here is our
economic engine and it is also a vital supply point for the rest of the United
States. Entergy has taken a keen interest in understanding how storms impact the
Gulf Coast. We recognize the need for a framework and fact base to quantify
risks and develop economically sensible investment approaches to address the
risk and build a resilient Gulf Coast.”
The forum, however, will do more than
discuss storm damage in broad regional terms. Shawn Corkran, director of
transmission and distribution, Entergy Texas, Inc., presented steps the company
proposes to implement to storm harden the Port Arthur area, should the city
become the company’s pilot project for this type of activity. Hardening would
cover transmission, distribution and substation facilities with the plan calling
for implementation in three phases over 10 years.
An example of activity would include
replacing 110 poles per year for 10 years; upgrading feeder backbone poles;
upgrading highway crossings are replaced with steel poles and adding storm guys
and avian protection.
Jeff Williams, director, climate
consulting for Entergy, presented a report developed through a partnership
between Entergy and America’s Wetland Foundation. The study identified $2
trillion in assets at risk by storms—assets that produce 30 percent of the
United States’ gross domestic product. The study found that by 2030, average
annual loss in the Golden
Triangle is expected to increase by
100 percent over today’s losses. The increases will be driven by asset growth,
wind and storm surge damage.
The study went on to cite the need
for resilience measures to be put into place based on their cost and benefit
characteristics and also discussed actions that can begin now to make the area
more resilient. Williams said that the purpose of conducting the studies and
presenting them in public forums was to engage the communities Entergy serves in
its resilience efforts.
“We hope that our customers stand
shoulder to shoulder with Entergy as we work toward making our communities more
resilient,” Williams said.
The Perryman Group, under the
auspices of Dr. Ray Perryman, measured the economic effects of storms at 2010
and 2030 levels of activity. He found that an average storm year currently costs
Jefferson and Orange counties $62.2 million and 621 jobs. A year with a major
storm, like hurricanes Rita and Ike, could bring those losses to more than $657
million and 6,556 jobs. He noted that economic harm will only grow as the area
Perryman also said that investing in
asset hardening against storms provides more than $1 return for each $1
invested. “In fact, the annual rate of return to the area economy from asset
hardening investments in the utility sector (and the associated reductions in
power outages) at maturity is 31.9 percent with no climate change, 40.6 percent
with low climate change, and 43.6 percent with high climate change.”
Entergy Texas, Inc. delivers
electricity to more than 400,000 customers in 27 counties. It is a subsidiary of
Entergy Corporation. Entergy is an integrated energy company engaged primarily
in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns
and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric
generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the
United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in
Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.