Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Entergy, CenterPoint Energy and Electrical Cooperatives of Arkansas request conservation of electricity usage
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Entergy, CenterPoint Energy and Electrical Cooperatives of Arkansas are requesting Arkansans conserve electricity and gas usage during the current winter weather event occuring across Arkansas.
According to an Entergy press release on Sunday, Feb. 14, the utility company had approximately 7,000 customers who experienced electricity interuption during the day as the winter storm blew in to Arkansas.
"The current load forecasts are approaching an all-time winter peak, even greater than those experienced during the polar vortex of January 2019,” said Michael Considine, vice president of Entergy customer service. “This high demand for electricity poses unique obstacles when crews work to restore electricity when the power goes out.”
Colder than normal temperatures during the early morning and overnight hours can prompt a large number of customers to increase the heat used in their homes and therefore the demand, Entergy officials said, which can cause voltage variations and repeated power disruptions.
If customers lose electricity, they can help with restore times by turning off major appliances and heating units. Once power is restored, customers should gradually power on appliances and heating systems to prevent a high level of instantaneous demand.
Entergy Arkansas also has procedures it must follow to prevent further damage to weather-ravaged equipment, which can affect when in the process a customer will be restored.
“Rather than simply energizing an entire power line all at once,” Considine said, “we must bring customers back online one section at a time to avoid damage to our system and possibly cause additional outages.”
The extremely cold temperatures for the service area are raising the potential for generation and transmission challenges for Entergy’s operating companies and its neighboring utilities.
“We ask you to be particularly mindful of your energy use during this extreme cold to help reduce the strain on the electric system by practicing safe energy conservation efforts,” Considine said.
CenterPoint Energy also released a statement emphasizing the use of gas also needs to be reduced in order to ensure continued supply during this time.
"In anticipation of high heating demand in response to the extremely cold temperatures, CenterPoint Energy is asking its Arkansas customers to temporarily lower their thermostat settings to help conserve natural gas," CenterPoint stated in the release. "The utility serves about 400,000 residential and business customers in Arkansas.
"CenterPoint Energy is asking its customers, if possible, to reduce their thermostat settings to 60-65 degrees during the day when at home – and lower the setting an additional 5-10 degrees when asleep or away from home – through Thursday, Feb. 18. This step can help ensure that all customers continue to have gas service to stay safe and warm during the intensely cold weather.
If a customer experiences a loss of gas service, they should contact the utility at 800-992-7552."
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management also urged Arkansans to reduce energy use at this time.
Arkansans can also reduce their energy footprint within their homes by reducing the number of rooms they use during prolonged cold weather events. Select several rooms to use during winter weather events and close doors to rooms that are not being used in an effort to reduce heating efforts to other parts of the home. It’s a good idea to have a few extra layers of clothing, blankets, water and other preparedness items readily available in the rooms where household members will spend time.
“Utilities are asking their customers for help in conserving the available natural gas supply during this winter weather event,” said Arkansas Division of Emergency Management Director A.J. Gary. “Natural gas continues to be a reliable source of energy for Arkansans, however these are unusual circumstances and the call for conservation this week is one that will help the utilities while they work to keep wellheads functioning.”
Temperatures are expected to remain low for the next several days. An additional winter weather storm is expected to impact Arkansas later this week. Taking steps now to reduce the strain on energy sources will help Arkansans prepare for the next round of winter weather.
Due to the extremely cold weather and the unusually high requirement for electricity, electric cooperatives and other electric utilities across Arkansas and surrounding states have reached a point where electricity demand has nearly exceeded the capacity.
The Electric Cooperations of Arkansas emphasized that voluntary cooperation is essential. If voluntary reductions are not sufficient to maintain continuity of service, it may be necessary to begin interruption of electric service to specific areas for limited time periods. It is not presently anticipated that this type of rotating curtailments will be necessary.
Cooperative representatives are also directly contacting large and commercial users asking their cooperation as well.
The interconnections of electric systems frequently make it possible for one system to secure additional electricity from neighboring systems. However, the present extreme cold weather is widespread in the Arkansas region, making the strain on the electric grid much higher than normal. Thus, conservation of energy is important to help ensure continuous electric service.
Some ways customers can help manage through this period:
· Lower the central thermostat to 68 degrees or lower if possible.
· Open blinds and draperies to let in warmth from the sun during the daytime.
· Delay laundry, washing dishes, bathing and other non-essential uses of electricity until this appeal for conservation has ended.
· Wash clothes with cold water, cook foods at the lowest possible setting and refrain from opening the oven door while baking.
· Don’t allow warmed air to escape from the home. To stay up to date on outages and restoration:
Entergy also provided these additional tips for their customers:
· Download the Entergy app for Apple or Android operating systems at Entergy.com/app.
· Register for address-specific alerts by texting REG to 36778. Customers will need an account number and ZIP code. Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage.
· Visit “View Outages” page at EntergyStormCenter.com.
· Follow Entergy Arkansas at Twitter.com/EntergyArk or Facebook.com/EntergyArk.
· Follow updates in local news media, including radio, television and newspapers.
· For tips on battling winter’s chill, while still keeping a lid on energy bills, go to Entergy’s Storm Center and view our Operation: Storm Ready Guide.
If you lose power:
· Stay away from downed power lines. You can’t tell from looking at them whether they are energized or not, so assume they are. Report them to 1-800-9OUTAGE.
· Report your power outage online to Entergy Arkansas or call 1-800-9OUTAGE. If you report your outage by phone, trust the automated system. It works very well. There is no need to speak with a customer service representative to report an outage.
· If you have a portable generator, use it safely. DO NOT run it in an enclosed space. If connecting to the whole house, do so only if the connection has been installed by a licensed electrician.
· Do not open your refrigerator or freezer door. Food will stay cold much longer this way. If outside temperature is below freezing, consider placing food in an ice chest outside.
· Stay clear of linemen as they work, for your safety and theirs. For tips and cold weather updates, visit http://entergy.com/cold. To report outages, use the Entergy app or call 1-800-9OUTAGE.
CenterPoint also reminded natural gas customers to remain aware of any rotten egg smell that could be a gas leak.
"CenterPoint Energy also provides a safety reminder in case of a suspected gas leak: If you smell the “rotten egg” odor of natural gas inside or near your home, leave the area immediately on foot and don’t turn any electrical devices on or off, don’t use a garage door opener and never use any phone until you are outside and away," the company said in their statement. "When you are at a safe distance, report the potential leak by calling both 911 and CenterPoint Energy’s 24-hour hotline for Arkansas at 800-992-7552."