Entergy Arkansas rebuilds power systems after EF4 tornado


Entergy Arkansas employees and contractors are working around the clock to rebuild power systems damaged during severe weather (Image: Crews rebuild power lines in downtown Mayflower. In the foreground is an overturned RV. Source: Entergy Arkansas)

More than 100 Entergy (NYSE: ETR) employees, along with more than 400 contractors, are working seven days a week to rebuild electrical facilities damaged during five distinct tornadoes on April 27, including the first twister of 2014 to earn a high-end rating of EF4, packing winds between 166-200 mph.

While power has been restored to all customers who can receive it after the storms, Entergy Arkansas employees in several departments are continuing a massive, coordinated effort to rebuild numerous transmission and distribution facilities, including the Mayflower substation, one of the three major substations that supplies power to metropolitan Little Rock.

"Entergy Arkansas is taking immediate and preemptive steps to ensure the integrity of the electrical system after extensive damage at our Mayflower substation," said Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, Inc. "In addition to building a temporary substation that will be in place by mid-June, we're using infrared technology to ensure undamaged facilities are operating smoothly and conducting more frequent aerial patrols to inspect and monitor critical transmission lines," McDonald said.

The damage sustained in the April tornado has reduced the company's back-up power options to some customers. With summer approaching, the possibility of more severe thunderstorms with damaging winds means Entergy must prepare customers for the remote possibility of a power interruption in the Little Rock area.          

"We are committed to rebuilding our facilities so that the transmission grid that supplies power to Central Arkansas is as reliable as before the storm," McDonald added. "Restoration costs of this magnitude are very fluid. Based upon Entergy Arkansas' damage assessments to date, preliminary estimates are between $90 million to $120 million for the transmission, substation and distribution rebuild before insurance proceeds," McDonald said.

For over an hour on April 27, the EF4 tornado tore a half-mile wide path of destruction from Ferndale, in western Pulaski County, 41 miles through the Faulkner County towns of Mayflower and Vilonia, where it reached its maximum strength, until it ended in El Paso. Houses and businesses were leveled. Sixteen people were killed, making the late-April storm the deadliest single tornado in Arkansas since 1968.  

As the utility works to rebuild key components of the grid, Entergy Arkansas reminds customers of numerous low- or no-cost ways to save money and energy though an award-winning portfolio of more than a dozen energy efficiency programs for residential and business customers.

Entergy Arkansas, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties.

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