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Entergy Arkansas fields complaints about power outages

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 29, 2012 at 2:04 p.m. Updated December 29, 2012 at 4:43 p.m.

— Arkansas’ largest utility welcomed cold customers to its Little Rock headquarters Saturday and pledged that linemen from throughout the South were working as quickly as possible to restore electricity knocked out by a Christmas Day blizzard.

On their fourth day without power, Entergy Arkansas customers shared comments, complaints and questions with company representatives. Some walked away satisfied, some were frustrated and some were elated to find that as they discussed their problems, power had been restored back at home.

Entergy says customers in remote locations or in rough terrain could be without service until New Year’s Day, and the state’s electric cooperatives say their final 4,000 outages, all in Saline County, should be resolved sometime Sunday.

Counting customers at Entergy and locally owned utilities, more than 260,000 homes and businesses were without power for at least part of the last week. As of midday Saturday, the number had dropped to about 70,000.

A storm system that also produced nearly three dozen tornadoes along the Gulf Coast swept through the Southern Plains beginning Christmas morning. In Arkansas, freezing rain collected on trees, power lines and poles that were later weighed down by up to 15 inches of snow.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service and on contract with the utility failed to predict the storm’s severity, Entergy spokeswoman Julie Munsell said.

The National Weather Service initially predicted the hard-hit Little Rock area would receive 3 to 7 inches of snow. It received about a half-inch of ice before 10.3 inches of snow fell.

The missed forecast, Munsell said, led the company’s operations team to line up too few workers for an emergency response. By the time more workers were called, it was virtually impossible to reach the hardest-hit areas because of treacherous roads.

The company had 4,700 workers in the field Saturday, she said.

Rob Roedel, a spokesman for the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, said the collection of 17 locally operated utilities was surprised by the storm’s path but believed its work after previous ice storms — including a mutual assistance plan among the companies — put it in a position to respond quickly to any area that was hit.

“We were told it was going to go to the north,” Roedel said. “But by Christmas evening, we had crews working.”

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

taunya says... December 29, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.

Today is my birthday and happy I should be. This is not the case because this is the 4th day my power has been out. My family is separated and we are spending money we don't have to get hotel rooms. Crying is all I can do because I don't know what ELSE to do.

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LeAnn says... December 29, 2012 at 5:49 p.m.

I appreciate all that Entergy has done. We finally got our power back today - and we stayed home the whole time. They have worked as hard as they could. I don't know how anyone could complain given the circumstances, I would say they have done a more than admirable job.

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cts051 says... December 29, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.

THANK YOU Entergy teams from Lawrenceville, GA; Indiana; Mississippi; Arkansas and those other teams I did not see for myself. Your work is greatly appreciated. Good job.

Litte Rock Resident

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NoUserName says... December 29, 2012 at 6:45 p.m.

The complaint is easy: fix the infrastructure so this doesn't happen every time the wind blows. In that respect, Entergy is a whopping failure. That being said, the response after 70% of LR went down has been good. And the linemen have, I'm sure, worked very hard and I am appreciative of that. But it's time we get some solutions to what is an obvious problem.

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TLBook says... December 31, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.

I have to agree with NoUserName. I've heard from a reliable source (a worker from another state who came to help) that Entergy failed miserably. Work really didn't begin to happen until they received help from workers from other states. I understand road conditions make traveling hazardous, but Entergy has got to do something about prevention. I have been through this too many times in my life to count. There were not enough shelters, warming centers, and people were trapped in their homes for days. If it wasn't for family & friends helping each other, people and pets could have died. Almost a week later and many customers still are without power....unacceptable!!

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