Insights > Historic Winter Storm Reveals Value of Teamwork
Historic Winter Storm Reveals Value of Teamwork
February’s historic winter storm was the worst such event to hit Mississippi in 25 years. The two waves of frozen precipitation, long-lasting, record cold and large area of impact made it one of Entergy’s most challenging power generation and power restoration events on record. More than 90,000 Mississippi customers lost power due to the weather.
We are not happy when even one customer has an outage. Yet, I am thankful for the teamwork that was so helpful both before and during the crisis.
Ice on trees, power lines and roads created incredibly dangerous working conditions and the weather impacted a large part of the nation, making it difficult to get additional resources to Mississippi to help in our restoration. Nevertheless, our local team of linemen moved as quickly as possible to restore power safely using the kind of Mississippi work ethic and grit that make them the finest in the industry. I am extremely proud of their heroic efforts.
Heavy power usage and extreme cold also required great work by our Mississippi power plant teams. Grand Gulf Nuclear Station and our natural gas plants use large amounts of water, and employees battled freezing conditions and low water pressure to keep the plants operating. Incredibly, our employees kept all but one plant online and running at or near capacity.
Teaming up with other states in the regional power coordinator, known as MISO, has been a huge cost savings for our customers. It is also a valuable back-up power source during most severe weather events. However, in this historic, multi-state event, MISO had to request a brief load shed in our service area – our first in 20 years. This was necessary to protect the integrity of the electric grid and avoid more lengthy, and potentially catastrophic, outages. Thankfully, it affected only a small number of customers for an hour or less on those circuits.
Entergy also made a rare request of our customers to team up and conserve power for a few days during the crisis because of the heavy power load. It takes more power during extreme cold weather to heat a home than to cool one during a hot Mississippi August. Our customers responded and reduced their usage enough to help prevent more issu
Previous teamwork by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the Governor and the Legislature also helped. The MPSC has worked in recent years to encourage and approve plans by utilities to modernize and harden electric infrastructure. They have also worked to ensure that power generation portfolios are local and diverse – using nearby nuclear, gas, renewable, and other power resources together – instead of being dependent on a single source. Additionally, the Governor and Legislature had already established financing mechanisms in Mississippi that help lessen the impact storm restoration costs have on customer bills. These actions have given Mississippi a big advantage, both during and after extreme weather events.
This natural disaster was hard on Mississippians, but it could have been worse if it had not been for the teamwork of so many. While we can always improve, I am proud of the work done by our employees, our customers and our state leaders that helped Mississippi endure and recover from an historic storm.