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  • Sara Doan

Electricity companies asking residents to 'conserve energy' due to winter weather

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, Ark- With little notice, multiple energy companies across the state made a drastic decision last night, planning power outages to various areas in Arkansas.

Something they say could happen during extreme weather conditions, as residents use more electricity.

“It cuts our load down because it was fixing to be over capacity. And you don’t want that to happen with the generator,” says Monty Williams, Craighead Electric vice president of marketing and communications. “Because if it does it will shut down the whole generator. So that’s what they started and why they were doing rolling blackouts. It will last for about an hour and then it will go to another sub-station. They’ll shut it off and then bring the other one back on.”

With a 20 minute notice, Craighead Electric had to drop 20 mega-wats of power to prevent widespread blackouts.

First impacting Trumann, Earle, and south Jonesboro substations.

Then, hitting the northwest Jonesboro substation.

Leaving around 5,500 homes and businesses in the dark.

Rolling blackouts is something Williams has heard of but has never seen in his 35-year career, until now.

Craighead Electric set a record yesterday with 171 megawatts of electricity being used.

Compared to January; their peak was 119 megawatts.

“We’re sitting at 141 megawatts. So, we’re down quite a bit but, even 141 is still pretty high. So, we’re still in the critical stage and watching it very close,” says Williams.

Craighead electric wasn’t the only company that temporarily shut off power.

Entergy Arkansas also had just minutes to warn customers.

Communications officer Brandi Hinkle says they are seeing historic demand for electricity that’s never happened before.

Hinkle says impacted areas were not random.

“When we looked at the grid and saw the transmission and energy usage demand, we tried to balance it. So, we were shutting off power in specific areas to us. Maybe not specific areas to customers. But ways we could most effectively control the energy that was passing through the lines at the time,” says Hinkle.

Entergy Arkansas’ outages impacted 60,000 people total, 20,000 at a time in multiple parts of the state with electricity off for an hour at a time.

Hinkle along with Craighead electric says they will continue to ask customers to cut back on electricity usage.

“Pull the thermostat down a little bit to 68 degrees during the day and maybe a little lower at night. Put off doing that laundry and running the dishwasher because those big appliances and especially heating units create a huge demand for electricity,” says Hinkle.

Hinkle says even in extreme heat it takes more electricity to warm a home than it does to cool it down.

Both Craighead Electric and Entergy Arkansas say they do not have any more planned rolling blackouts.

City Water and Light asked residents to cut back on their energy use but did not have any planned or rolling blackouts.

But they say last night’s outages were a last-minute necessary decision and not planned.


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