August 14, 2008
For Immediate Release
Debi Derrick
Boom-Equipped Airboats Keep Wetlands Safe

Entergy Texas, Inc. Makes Its First use of Innovative Construction Technique

Sabine Pass, Texas – The marshes and wetlands here are far from ideal for construction projects, and for more reasons than just wet and muddy soil. Special care must be taken to preserve fragile wetland ecosystems from the damage that can so easily occur when men and machines begin working.

After Tropical Storm Edouard blew through, it left just that kind of construction project behind in the soggy marshes off Highway 87 north of Sabine Pass. While high winds brought down poles and wires in numerous places, in one area with limited access, workers were at first only able to make temporary repairs to a pole immediately after the storm passed. A new pole needed to be set in the original location, about 15 feet away from where the temporary repairs were made. The company, however, didn’t have a digger truck that could reach that far from the road.

The answer? Airboats. But not just any airboats. This situation was one example of how restoration following Tropical Storm Edouard proved an opportune time to make use of a construction technique used in Louisiana wetlands following hurricanes Katrina and Rita – airboats equipped with hydraulic booms. Think of it as a bucket truck with an airboat instead of the truck.

With four airboats on hand, Entergy workers had the specialized equipment they needed for a difficult task. The pole was set and the wetlands were safe.

Abe Roman, Entergy Texas’ east region manager, said company officials elected to try the airboats in marsh areas after hearing how effective they were in Louisiana’s restoration efforts following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“The equipment is really amazing,” Roman said. “We initially utilized this equipment in the Winnie area where there were a dozen or so poles down in the marsh and the equipment worked marvelously.” Roman noted use of the equipment fits with Entergy Texas’ commitment to being environmentally conscientious.

The technique of using airboats has proven so effective that last year, Entergy Corp.’s use of airboats in fragile wetlands in Louisiana was a finalist in the annual Construction Project of the Year award from the Platts Global Energy Awards. It was also recognized internally by J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy Corp. chairman and chief executive officer.

Frank Galassi, who manages a portion of Entergy Texas’ coastal area electrical distribution system, said work in the marshlands typically would require marsh buggies. Those, however, leave a “footprint,” meaning their wide tracks, size and weight cause damage to wetlands areas that may require backfilling and grass planting to restore the land to pre-project condition.

Airboats, however, are another story. Not only are they faster than marsh buggies, but by gliding over the marsh, they inflict virtually no damage to the fragile ecosystem.

Ronnie Thibodeaux, owner of Ronnie’s Airboats of Centerville, La., created the boom-equipped boats following an earlier modification of airboats for the oil industry. After seeing the prototype airboat, Entergy Louisiana partnered with Thibodeaux for a pilot project. The boom airboat benefits were obvious from the start and their use has continued to grow.

Entergy Texas, Inc. provides electricity to 395,000 customers in 26 counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy Corp. 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. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 14,300 employees.

Entergy Texas’ on-line address is www.entergy-texas.com.