Entergy Arkansas officials said that restoration continues for its hard-hit service area, particularly parts of Little Rock, Hot Springs and Malvern.
State president Hugh McDonald met with the press around 1pm this afternoon and outlined progress being made.
“We’re doing everything we can to get resources to your location to get your lives back to normal as quickly as possible,” McDonald said.
McDonald said that nearly 5,000 workers from 15 states – as far away as Florida and Indiana – have been working to repair electric lines across the state. He said that areas of Little Rock, Hot Springs and Malvern remain in the dark.
“It’s a long time to be out of power and we’re doing everything we can,” said McDonald. “We expect to make significant progress.”
As many as 194,000 Entergy Arkansas customers lost power from the Christmas Day winter storm, but around 106,000 remain without power. McDonald said that it could still be about 7 days for full power to be restored.
Entergy’s web site, Entergy-Arkansas.com, has a “View Outages” page that is being updated frequently as power is restored.
McDonald defended Entergy’s preparations for the winter storm. He said the combination of ice, wet snow and winds made for harsh conditions and the actual storm was much stronger than predicted.
The company currently budgets about $15 million a year for tree-trimming, which keeps tree limbs from affecting power lines. It does not necessarily prevent trees from falling on lines.
McDonald said it was too early to estimate the dollar amount of the damage from the storms. He said it would be in the “tens of millions of dollars.”
He also said that the company would review and assess its response to the storm for future planning after power is restored in its system.
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas has also been restoring outages in its coverage area.
“Outages are at approximately 10,000 with service to all members that can accept service to be restored by Saturday evening,” said spokesman Rob Roedel. “Hopefully, this figure will continue to drop as work continues. Ongoing visual damage assessments revealed additional issues, but crews are on the ground and working as they have been since Christmas evening.”