Insights > Entergy System Winter Storm Update – 2/15/21 @ 8:30 a.m.
Entergy System Winter Storm Update – 2/15/21 @ 8:30 a.m.
Customers are experiencing power outages across our service territory due to the winter weather. Parts of our service area are experiencing below-freezing temperatures with negative temperatures. Outages at 8:20 a.m.:
- Arkansas – 3,700
- Louisiana – 24,600
- Mississippi – 1,100
- Texas – 79,000
We have assembled a workforce of more than 3,700 resources to help restore power. We bring in resources in advance of bad weather to avoid travel risk as much as possible. We continue refining the number of additional resources based on the latest weather forecasts. Our internal crews and damage assessment teams are staged close to home locations to respond quickly when conditions are safe.
Our restoration workforce is restoring power for our customers where it is safe to do so. Road closures due to icy conditions and other accessibility challenges due to the storm may affect our ability to reach some areas of our territory and could delay restoration in those communities.
The high level of instantaneous demand is hampering efforts to restore power in some areas. Customers without power should take action and turn off or unplug electric heat systems and appliances and turn them back on gradually after power is restored.
Entergy Texas has started periodic power outages for its customers across southeast Texas. The company is taking this action as directed by our reliability coordinator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), as a last resort and in order to prevent a more extensive, prolonged power outage that could severely affect the reliability of the power grid.
- This is an unusual situation driven by extreme weather conditions. A loss of generation combined with the peak load has caused a strain on the system. As a result, we are short of the power needed to meet our customers’ demands across southeast Texas.
- Depending on conditions, individual customers may experience multiple outages during the day.
- Crews have taken proactive steps to prepare and protect our assets from the extreme cold as well as placed additional power generation into service. Due to bitterly cold temperatures and the winter storm, the demand for electricity has reached an all-time high.
- MISO is taking action or directing actions to be taken to restore the system to normal operations as quickly as possible and will direct Entergy Texas to stop the periodic outages as soon as the power shortfall no longer threatens the integrity of the rest of the electrical power system.
There can be many factors that cause momentary interruptions in power. During extremely cold weather, the electric load increases significantly in comparison to “normal" cold weather conditions. Colder temperatures during the early morning and late-night hours can prompt a large number of customers to heat their homes around the same time. This can sometimes cause voltage variations, causing power to go off and on repeatedly. Report such incidents to entergy.com or 1-800-9-OUTAGE.
Due to the additional measures crews must take, restoration may take longer, especially where there are widespread outages. Additionally, crews will continue to practice social distancing and we ask that customers do the same. For their safety and yours, please stay away from work zones.
The extreme cold temperatures for the service area are expected to bring periodic snow and ice throughout the week, which already has caused generation and transmission challenges for Entergy’s operating companies and its neighboring utilities.
The current load could reach an all-time winter peak, even greater than those experienced during the polar vortex of January 2019.
These conditions are spread across the country, including the area served by MISO that manages transmission and generation needs for the Entergy operating companies and other utilities. MISO projects whether it will have sufficient power generation to address increased demand and resource uncertainties the cold weather can bring. MISO has directed Entergy Texas to take action due to generation insufficiency.
Extreme cold can cause operational issues for our power generation facilities by adversely affecting systems and instrumentation that has caused some generators to suddenly go offline and not produce power.
We have taken steps to prepare and protect our assets for the extreme cold as part of our winter weather preparations, as well as placing additional power generation into service.
- We have cancelled planned outages and returned all available transmission lines to service.
- Preparation steps have included adding extra personnel and contractors who are checking equipment every 30 minutes. During these 30-minute checks, personnel are checking to ensure equipment is still energized and there are no service interruptions. Crews also are placing meters on circuits to monitor energization.
- We have double insulated critical infrastructure lines, secured extra fuel, added heaters and are using antifreeze to protect generation systems.
- Crews will also run equipment continuously to avoid issues related to starting and stopping.
- Extreme cold can also impact natural gas supply. Plants are proactively working with gas companies on supply and availability. Crews have built wind breaks and added heaters to prevent freezing.
These are extreme conditions creating high demand for electricity over the next few days. Some ways customers can help us manage through this period:
- Lower the central thermostat to 68 degrees.
- Delay laundry, washing dishes, bathing and other non-essential uses of electricity until this appeal for conservation has ended.
- Wash clothes with cold water, cook foods at the lowest possible setting and refrain from opening the oven door while baking.
- Don’t allow warmed air to escape from the home.
The impact of ice storms is very difficult to predict, but the inclement weather already is very challenging. We model anticipated damage and have worked through our checklists, opened local command centers, stocked up on needed materials, readied our trucks for driving on snow and ice, organized the manpower and arranged for food and lodging for the crews.
Ice is particularly harmful to electrical lines:
- Ice can increase the weight of branches by 30 times.
- At 1/8 inch of freezing rain accumulation, small limbs and lines become coated and can cause isolated outages by breaking the weakest limbs that are overhanging services and lines.
- At 1/4 inch of freezing rain accumulation, more limbs and lines become coated, causing similar, but somewhat more widespread outages to the distribution system. Younger evergreen trees will start to become so heavy that they may lean into the distribution lines, causing more outages.
- A 1/2" accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight.
Cold Weather Restoration
We use a methodical and calculated process in bringing customers back online after an outage in very cold weather, regardless of whether the initial cause of the outage was specifically weather-related.
- Rather than simply energizing an entire power line all at once, we must bring customers back online one section at a time to avoid damage to our system and make the situation worse.
- During cold temperature extremes, customers tend to use a lot of electricity to keep heating or other devices running. Electric heaters often will run continuously, creating a constant power demand.
- When power is disrupted during winter, many customers leave their heating systems and appliances turned on, creating too much energy demand all at once when we try to restore power.
- Restoring all customers on the same power line has the potential to create large, instantaneous power demands. The instant demand could be higher than the built-in protective devices on a line can handle.
- We have devices that protect our system during times of normal, day-to-day operations and power demand. During weather extremes, we must change our processes to protect our system and restore power in a way that best ensures safety and reliability for our customers.
- During extreme cold weather conditions, these specific restoration challenges are experienced not just by Entergy, but throughout the industry and the country.
- Customers without power can help in the restoration process by turning off major appliances but leaving on a lamp or other light to indicate when power is restored. Then, gradually turn other appliances to spread out the increase in power usage over a longer time.
- Click here for more information about restoration in extremely cold conditions.
Our preparations include ensuring the safety of our workers.
- Workers will begin restoration when it is safe to do so.
- When it is safe, we can begin restoring service to customers by closing circuit breakers, rerouting power and other means.
- As we learn more about the damage, we put in place a restoration plan that helps us restore the greatest number customers safely in the shortest amount of time.
We are all keenly aware of the damage major winter storms have caused in the last few days and in recent years. We’ve learned from them and we’re ready for these next rounds.
- Ice accumulating on trees and power lines can result in power outages.
- We have a plan of continuous preparation, training and action that we call Operation: Storm Ready.
- We’ve improved our operations based on previous storm responses and our annual storm drills.
- The first step of our action plan is to bring in extra personnel and make sure we can take care of them.
Customers should remain prepared:
- Charge up mobile devices and back-up batteries.
- Download the Entergy app to and sign up for text updates.
- Review guidance at entergystormcenter.com.
- If you have medical equipment that requires electricity to properly function, take necessary steps to secure an alternative source of electricity in the event of a power disruption.
- Have an emergency kit including flashlights, medicine, first aid, water and food.
Here is what our customers can expect from us in responding to this storm:
- We have assembled and organized the workforce we need to restore service safely and quickly to all customers.
- We will keep you informed about our restoration progress using the channels listed below.
- After the storm, it could take up to three days of our scouts assessing damage before we will know how long it will take to restore everyone’s power.
- While we are assessing damage, we will begin restoring service where it is safe to do so.
Facing a winter storm is very challenging. As you prepare, keep in mind that it could take several days after the storm is over before we restore power to most of our customers.
- We use weather forecasts and computer models based on knowledge from past storms to predict an estimated number of customers without power and the number of days needed to restore power.
- We can restore power faster in areas with less damage. Some of the hardest-hit areas could take longer, so you may want to factor this into your decisions as you prepare for the storm.
- We will know more after the storm passes and we are able to fully assess damages.
If you lose power:
- Stay away from downed power lines. You can’t tell from looking at them whether they are energized or not, so assume they are. Report them to 1-800-9OUTAGE (1-800-968-8243).
- Report your power outage online or call 1-800-9OUTAGE (1-800-968-8243). If you report your outage by phone, trust the automated system. It works very well. There is no need to speak with a customer service representative to report an outage.
- If you have a portable generator, use it safely. DO NOT run it in an enclosed space. If connecting to the whole house, do so only if the connection has been installed by a licensed electrician.
- Do not open your refrigerator or freezer door. Food will stay cold much longer this way. If outside temperature is below freezing, consider placing food in an ice chest outside.
- Stay clear of linemen as they work.
To stay up to date on outages and restoration:
- Download the Entergy app for Apple or Android operating systems at Entergy.com/app.
- Register for address-specific alerts by texting REG to 36778. Customers will need an account number and ZIP code. Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage.
- Visit “View Outages.”
- Follow us at https://twitter.com/entergy or https://www.facebook.com/entergy.
- Follow updates in local news media, including radio, television and newspapers.
- For tips on battling winter’s chill, while still keeping a lid on energy bills, go to Entergy’s Storm Center and view our Operation: Storm Ready Guide.
As we face the possibility of winter storms, we want to be sure you are prepared.
- Above all, stay safe. A personal plan for you and your family is the best way to stay safe and be storm ready.
- Visit the Entergy Storm Center website for planning tools that can help guide you through the decisions you need to make.
- As we focus resources on storm restoration, routine tasks, such as installation of new service, are likely to be delayed.