Energy companies executed controlled power outages during Monday winter weather


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Rolling controlled power outages were executed in Northwest Arkansas on Monday due to inclement weather. Energy company representatives said this was to conserve grid energy, while local residents said better communication is needed in these circumstances.

SWEPCO was the first to announce these outages, which began in the early afternoon hours.

The rotating controlled outages were implemented when SWEPCO and other utilities were called upon by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional organization that manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states. The planned and coordinated interruption of service is part of emergency procedures to reduce load on the electric system and prevent wider area outages.

SWEPCO Press Release

Casey Sullivan, a SWEPCO spokesperson, said the weather dictates when controlled outages are necessary. She said there could be more during this week’s winter weather, with no more planned for Monday.

“Anytime we have these controlled outages, it’s an emergency situation,” Sullivan said.

OG&E, another electric company that utilizes the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), was directed to, “initiate temporary service interruptions to manage regional system load and avoid protracted power outages.” The company asked customers to, “conserve power to help the region navigate this current situation and minimize further interruptions.”

Ozarks Electric doesn’t utilize the SPP, and spokesperson Ashley Harris said the company is prepared to execute these outages but doesn’t plan to do so at this point.

“That is the last resort,” Harris said. “We don’t anticipate doing that at this point.”

Ozarks Electric and SWEPCO both have outage maps on their respective websites, and their representatives encouraged Northwest Arkansas residents to check there for the latest information. Sullivan and Harris said their companies will let people know about outages as soon as they know they’re coming, but there won’t be a lot of time beforehand to warn people.

For added immediacy, Ozarks Electric posts outage updates to its social media pages, while SWEPCO allows customers to sign up for alerts that go straight to their phones.

“Sign up for SWEPCO Alerts,” Sullivan said. “We’ll send you a text message that says you power’s off and when it’ll be restored.”

Garth Rotramel lives in Fayetteville, and his home is powered by SWEPCO. He said it lost power shortly after noon Monday.

“It came back on after about 20 seconds then went out again,” Rotramel said. “I think it flickered one more time, and then it went out and stayed out.”

Rotramel said in future situations, energy companies should be more communicative so people know when controlled outages are coming.

“If I know the power’s [going to be] out, I’ll be better prepared,” Rotramel said. “It would just be a good idea to be able to know.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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