LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It's getting hot and we know summer is coming. That means air conditioners are going to be coming on and staying on longer.
But some customers already got warnings this week from local electric company, Entergy Arkansas, that "excessive usage" could mean occasional power failures.
A viewer asked THV11's 11 Listens Facebook page if that meant the power grid was already overloaded before the really hot weather arrived. We asked company officials and they took us for a ride into the North Little Rock woods.
“We have a broken cross-arm where we think a tree fell and hit the lines,” said Desi Hunter of Entergy. “There's this misconception that we're in Little Rock and we don't need off-road equipment, but we actually have a lot of off-roads.”
His crews had to go off-roading to find the reason for an outage after this week's storms. While they worked, Entergy engineers re-routed power to the affected customers.
“Instead of trying to get that circuit back on because we couldn't get it back on during the night, we actually added load,” Hunter explained. “We picked up some customers from two other substations.”
All that juice going over longer distances made Entergy issue a warning by text that said the power may have to go off “due to excessive use.”
But it was localized and not because everyone began running their air conditioners at once.
“We're a long way from those substations,” said Hunter. “Trying to feed customers that far, it was not a load issue. It was just a distance issue.”
The re-routing, or “backfeeding,” forced Entergy to keep a close eye on critical customers: a hospital and a surgical center.
“We have to monitor that load, and what we'll do, we'll shed that load to save a hospital,” he said.
That meant occasional outages while they fixed the broken pole. There's not much the company said it could do, but they are looking ahead for a solution.
“Entergy has just invested $10 million into building a new substation there at Kelly Crossing and MacArthur,” Hunter said. “The lot has been cleared and construction is about to begin.”