Power companies weathering the storm

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

BONO/JONESBORO/SALEM, AR (KAIT) – Officials with utility companies across the Region 8 viewing area said they experienced very few problems Friday.

Freezing rain and sleet fell most of the night Thursday but little collected on power lines and trees. According to Monty Williams with Craighead Electric Cooperatives, 50 customers lost power to their homes early Friday morning, but electricity was restored by midday.

"This morning we were lucky we didn't have as much ice as we did," said Williams. "We had a few outages."

Williams said most of the outages were towards Bono. According to utility crews, 270 homes lost power in Bono early Friday.

"It was probably the wind and a little bit of ice on there. that's one thing we're worried about this afternoon is that the winds are supposed to get up and the lines will start flopping, and they can come loose from insulators and slap together and cause people's lights to blink and stuff like that," said Williams.

Other utility companies reported minor to no problems. Clay County Electric told Region 8 News they had a few isolated incidents, but nothing major.

As of 4:30 Friday afternoon, Entergy is reporting few to no power outages north of highway 63. They're reporting about 155 customers without power around the Harrisburg/Cash/Fisher area. Also about 32 people reported outages around Marked Tree. David Burnett with Entergy says because of the location of some of the outages, some people may not regain power until late Saturday. State-wide, Entergy is reporting 15,000 customers without power, with the majority of outages around central Arkansas.

North Arkansas Electric Cooperative reported no outages. According to Mel Coleman, the cold temperatures prevented a potential disaster.

"If it wasn't for that polar jet, we'd be in a world of hurt right now," said Coleman. "In our service territory we got anywhere from five to eight inches of snow right now and it looks like throughout the rest of the evening and possibly tonight we may pick up some more."

Coleman said the fact this weather event produced "dry" snow has helped.

"Wet snow; while it's not as lethal on a distribution electric system as ice. Wet snow can cause us an enormous amount of problems," said Coleman.

"Ice accumulating on the lines that was the main concern and then the wind. The snow is really our friend because it doesn't collect on the lines but it does collect on the trees," said Williams. "They're still predicting, 8m,10, 12 inches of snow and if that starts collecting on the trees, especially pine trees, that's going to push them down into the lines and that could break the lines and poles and stuff."

Coleman said his crews are still working on repairs from last year's ice storm.

"We are still today and through this year and probably into next year will be making permanent repairs to our system but the real problem are those parts of the system that were bruised, banged up that we don't know anything about," said Coleman. "Anything that we have now could be more detrimental to our distribution system because of the bangs and the bruises that are left over from the ice storm."

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