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Reduced energy usage urged during winter weather

by Matt Hutcheson | February 16, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.
Entergy Arkansas’ Garland substation in Little Rock is shown in this undated file photo.

Winter has come to south Arkansas in force and residents are being urged to monitor their energy usage to minimize resource strain.

Entergy Arkansas issued a statement on social media Sunday night regarding the issue.

“Entergy Arkansas asks customers to be particularly mindful of their energy usage during this extreme cold to help reduce the strain on the electric system. Practice safe energy conservation efforts if you can,” the statement reads.

Conservation tips provided by the company include setting the thermostat to 68 degrees and wearing warm clothing, opening blinds to allow sunlight in, delaying washing dishes or doing laundry if possible, washing clothes with cold water and cooking on the lowest possible setting.

The company also listed the following information, urging customers 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:”

  • 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.

Entergy Arkansas’ outage map reported that 6,096 customers were experiencing outages at noon on Monday.

Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas also issued a statement containing information about the need for energy conservation.

“This is an unprecedented time, and we urge electric cooperative members to immediately reduce the use of electrical requirements by turning off or not using non-essential lights and electric appliances, especially electric water heaters, clothes dryers, and dishwashers and to turn heating thermostats to lower settings,” said Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning and market operations for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

According to that statement, cooperative representatives are contacting industrial and commercial members to request their help with energy conservation.

The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management released a statement requesting conservation of natural gas.

The statement urges conservation practices including keeping thermostats set between 60-65 degrees during the day and lowering them five-10 degrees at night, lowering hot water heater temperatures, reducing the number of rooms in a home being actively used and making use of blankets and warm clothing.

“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.”

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