BY: ARKANSAS EDITORIAL TEAM
**MISO has issued a public appeal for conservation across the Entergy region from 5 – 10 pm tonight. Visit Entergy.com/StormCenter to stay informed and see tips on how you can save energy during this time**
There is the potential for mandatory forced outages in the next few hours if the demand does not decrease, and customers across the state should be prepared to have controlled outages for what we hope will be no more than 60 minutes per customer until the power demand is reduced. Limiting the use of large appliances and lowering the thermostat on heating units now can greatly impact the number and length of forced outages.
Residential, commercial and industrial are all asked to decrease their electrical usage from 5 to 10 p.m., as directed by from reliability coordinator Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) regarding critical power shortages. Mandatory forced outages decrease the likelihood of widespread outages and long-term damages to the bulk electric system.
Circuits serving emergency facilities or where loss of service presents significant risk to public safety and health will be high priority to maintain power.
Thank you for your patience and your voluntary conservation of power as we continue working with MISO to monitor, in real time, the balance of the power generation supply compared to the extremely high customer demand we are experiencing.
Similar mandatory forced outages took place from 7:03 p.m. to 8:55 p.m., and approximately 60,000 customers across the state experienced temporary outages ranging between 11 to 45 minutes. The company took this action at the direction of the MISO and as a last resort to prevent a more extensive, prolonged power outages that could severely affect the reliability of the power grid. All Entergy operating companies, as well as other members of MISO, participated in the outages.
Extreme cold winter weather continues tonight, with snow throughout the state and into Thursday. Temperatures are also expected to remain well below freezing until Saturday. These extreme cold conditions and precipitation can create problems for an electric system and make for hazardous driving conditions, slowing restoration.
As of 5 p.m., there are approximately 47 customers without power, which is unrelated to the mandatory rolling outages that began late yesterday evening. We have approximately 1,400 resources engaged in restoration efforts and that number could increase as we work to bring in additional mutual assistance resources from outside the state. We are responding to outages quickly and as safely as possible when they occur. Our team will continue to practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this may slow restoration work.
We strongly request customers who have not made conservation efforts so far to voluntarily do so now. Several ways we encourage customers to help is included below:
- Lower the central thermostat to 68 degrees and adjust window units accordingly. Heating can account for as much as 55% of your monthly electric bill. Setting the thermostat to 68 degrees in the winter is an easy way to reduce how much energy you use. Every degree above 68 on the thermostat can increase your bill by about 3%.
- Use energy-efficient ceiling fans and portable fans to circulate the warm air to help with your comfort.
- Delay laundry, washing dishes, bathing and other non-essential uses of electricity until this appeal for conservation has ended.
- Conserve hot water. Wrap your electric water heater with a water heater blanket that can be found at local home improvement stores and set the thermostat to 120 degrees or medium.
- 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. Keep all doors and windows closed. Constant traffic will let out the warm air, forcing your heater to work harder to keep the room at the set temperature.
- Ensure fans are turning the right way. Fans should be run at a low speed clockwise during the winter. This helps keep the cold air from blowing down on you.
- Keep the air circulating. Don’t block heat registers or air returns with curtains or furniture.
- Leverage the sun. During the day, open your curtains and blinds to let in the warm sunlight. Close them at night to reduce heat loss.
For additional tips and cold weather updates, visit http://entergy.com/cold.
Customers should remain prepared:
- Charge up mobile devices and back-up batteries.
- Download the Entergy app to sign up for text updates.
- Review guidance at Entergy Storm Center.
- If you have medical equipment that requires electricity to properly function, take necessary steps to secure an alternative source of electricity in the event of a power disruption.
- Have an emergency kit including flashlights, medicine, first aid, water and food.
STORM RESTORATION PROCESS
If there are widespread outages, we will deploy scouts to assess damage in all affected areas. It is during these assessments that we base our estimated restoration times. We will communicate these estimates with you, updating as new information becomes available. Our crews will simultaneously be restoring service where it is deemed safe to do so. We ask for your patience, and please know restoring your power safely and quickly is our top priority.
Please be aware the restoration process can be hampered by large instantaneous electrical demand from appliances (heating units, water heaters, etc.) when service is restored to your location, potentially overloading protective devices on Entergy’s electrical system. To help mitigate this problem, we use a methodical and calculated process in bringing customers back online after an outage in very cold weather. Entergy encourages customers without power to help in the restoration process by turning off major appliances but leaving on a lamp or other light to indicate when power is restored. Then, gradually turn on other appliances to spread out the increase in power usage over a longer time.
- Rather than simply energizing an entire power line all at once, we must bring customers back online one section at a time to avoid damage to our system and make the situation worse.
- During cold temperature extremes, customers tend to use a lot of electricity to keep heating or other devices running. Electric heaters often will run continuously, creating a constant power demand.
- When power is disrupted during winter, many customers leave their heating systems and appliances turned on, creating too much energy demand all at once when we try to restore power.
- Restoring all customers on the same power line has the potential to create large, instantaneous power demands. The instant demand could be higher than the built-in protective devices on a line can handle.
- We have devices that protect our system during times of normal, day-to-day operations and power demand. During weather extremes, we must change our processes to protect our system and restore power in a way that best ensures safety and reliability for our customers.
- During extreme cold weather conditions, these specific restoration challenges are experienced not just by Entergy, but throughout the industry and the country.